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Search for the Pope: How the Conclave works

Posted: 9:45 AM, Mar 12, 2013
Updated: 2013-03-12 09:45:13-04

All eyes will be on the 115 voting cardinals today as they head into the Sistine Chapel for their first vote.

Early in the morning, the eleven American cardinals boarded a bus that took them from the North American College to their new residence, St. Martha’s convent inside the walls of Vatican city, where they will be cut off from the outside world until a new Pope is chosen.

They American cardinals were sent off by thunderous applause from the Seminarians who study at the college.

Monsignor Anthony Figuerito was also there to bid farewell and said it felt like he was a proud father sending his kids off to school.

“We love our Cardinals of the United States.  They will be an enormous voice as the 115 Cardinals head in to the Conclave.   Eleven left here, perhaps only ten will come back,” said Figuerito.’

The Cardinals take part in a public mass in Saint Peter’s Basillica  before lunch.  Then, they will process into the Sistine Chapel, where the first and only vote of the day will take place.

Here is how it works:

There are long tables that line the inside of the Sistine Chapel where each Cardinal will sit.   When the voting begins, each will write the name of the Cardinal they are voting for , then walk up to a table and place their ballot into a large chalice.

Once the ballots are all cast, three senior Cardinals will read the names out loud.   Seventy-seven votes are needed to elect a new Pope.   If there is no decision today, black smoke will be seen from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney to the crowds outside.

As for frontrunners, Italians papers are saying that Milan’s Archbishop Angelo Scola has already secured forty votes going into today’s conclave.    However, Vatican insiders keep saying there is more buzz than ever surrounding two of the American Cardinals: O’Malley from Boston and Timothy Dolan from New York.