Entries in Sistine Chapel (4)


Black Smoke Emerges from Sistine Chapel After Second Papal Vote

VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Black smoke emerging from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel Wednesday morning indicated that the 115 cardinal electors of the Roman Catholic Church failed to elect a pope in their second vote.

The cardinals started the conclave on Tuesday afternoon, but black smoke emerged from the chapel's chimney a few hours afterwards, signaling that no candidate had received the two-thirds majority -- 77 votes -- needed for election.

With such a wide open conclave, the failure to pick the next pontiff on the first day did not come as a surprise.

"As the votes go on, a certain clarity usually arrives," Fr. John Wauck, a U.S. priest living in Rome, told ABC News.  "No one said electing a pope was going to be easy."

However, a key cardinal from the United States voiced optimism that a decision would be made soon.  Before the conclave began, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a letter to his priests in New York that he believed a successor to the retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI would be picked by Thursday evening.

Dolan himself is viewed as a potential candidate to become the next pope, as is fellow American Cardinal Sean O'Malley from Boston.  But there has never been an American pope or any pope from outside of Europe.  Other candidates viewed as potential frontrunners are cardinals Angelo Scola of Italy, Marc Ouellet of Canada, Peter Erdo of Hungary and Odilo Scherer of Brazil.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cardinals Prepare to Pick a New Pope

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(ROME) -- What would God do?  That’s the question many Roman Catholic Cardinals meeting in Rome are asking themselves as they prepare to select the next Pope.

The Sistine Chapel at the Vatican is now closed to the public as the College of Cardinals prepares to gather in the sanctuary on Tuesday to pick the next pontiff.

The 115 cardinals themselves are sworn to secrecy, but retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, says it's a very emotional and solemn ritual.

“You're voting for the man you think God would want," McCarrick says.

The cardinal adds, “It's a very emotional time and a very, very deep moment when you try to read the mind of God.”

When white smoke does billow out of the Sistine Chapel's chimney, the centuries-old signal that a new pope has been chosen, thousands of people will get a text message and an email.

It's not a service from the Holy See, but rather Pope Alarm, a new website that promises “when the smoke goes up, you'll know what's going down.”

Once the new pope is introduced to the world on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, thousands more will then check their Fantasy Conclave picks to see how they fared.

"I love the fact contemporary media is giving people access to new ways to the conclave," says Matthew Bunson, general editor of the Catholic Almanac.  “It demonstrates that there is intense interest all over the world.”

When the cardinal electors enter the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday, they'll have the prayers and support of people who have registered to “adopt a cardinal.”

After someone enters their email address on the Adopt a Cardinal website, they're assigned one of the 115 cardinal electors to keep in their prayers.  The cardinals know about the site, and they seem to approve.

“To all participating in 'Adopt a Cardinal' project: 'Thank you very much for 'adopting' us. Your prayers are helping us discern God's will,” Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa, tweeted.

Once the conclave begins, the cardinals will live detached from the outside world until a new pope is chosen.

Cellphone-jamming devices are installed in the Sistine Chapel in order to ensure the utmost secrecy, and for the approximately nine cardinals who are active on Twitter, that means taking a social media vacation.

The cardinal electors will vote four times per day -- twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon -- until they reach a two-thirds majority.

If the next pope were chosen by an online popularity contest, three social-media-savvy cardinals would have to duke it out for the top spot.

The Twitter and Facebook accounts of Cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York, Luis Tagle of Manila and Gianfranco Ravasi of Italy have accounted for more than 85 percent of cardinals' social media use, according to Decisyon, an Italian start-up specializing in social media analysis.

While Bunson called being social media-savvy “a plus” for the contenders, he said it's essential the new pope embraces Twitter, as Benedict XVI did, and other forms of digital media.

“Certainly popes have embraced the use of radio, film, and television and then the Internet,” he said.  “Social media is the next area of communication that has to be used and understood if the church is going to evangelize and get the gospel out there.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Papal Porta-Potties in the Sistine Chapel?

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Among the more intriguing traditions of a papal election is the little stove installed in the Sistine Chapel to burn the ballots and send out the smoke signals about the results.

But one mystery never really discussed is how 115 voting cardinals locked in a room deal with, ahem, waste of a more mundane nature.

Papal porta-potties, it turns out.

“They are installing chemical toilets inside the Sistine Chapel,” Antonio Paulucci, the director of the Vatican Museums told Italy’s Il Messagero newspaper Wednesday.

There are public bathrooms nearby -- just one floor down -- but the cardinals won’t be able to venture out of the chapel to use them.

The Sistine Chapel is under undergoing a transformation before the vote.

The Raphael Rooms will remain open, but the Borgia Apartments will be closed as will Pope Paul VI’s collection of contemporary church art.

The museum has also closed the doors of the Sistine Chapel to all tourists.

The Sistine Chapel is the museum’s biggest attraction, with 5 million visitors a year. Now even pre-paid private tour groups are cancelled or postponed until after the new pope emerges.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Paintings Turn 500 

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Five hundred years ago, Michelangelo put down his brush -- his masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel completed. The great master had toiled for years and years, and to this day, his efforts are still on display up on the ceiling.

Wednesday marked the 500th anniversary of the Michelangelo's completion of the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. On Oct. 31, 1512, the "Warrior Pope" Julius II held a simple vespers prayer service for 17 cardinals to mark the completion of the masterpiece.

"The Sistine chapel is one of the world's great artistic treasures because of Michelangelo's frescoes. But it's always been one of the pope's personal chapels," said Vatican communications advisor Greg Burke.

"He just lets a few million people in to look at it every year," he added. Five-million per year to be precise. Some critics say that's too many, but efforts to try to limit the number of visitors have so far been rebuffed.  

Pope Benedict XVI commemorated the anniversary Wednesday by repeating Julius II's vespers service beneath the famous frescoes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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