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Saturday
Mar092013

Vatican Installs Chimney on Sistine Chapel Roof in Preparation for Conclave

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Vatican workers placed the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel on Saturday morning. When the conclave starts on Tuesday, all eyes will be on this chimney, waiting to see if black or white smoke is coming out the top.

The chimney is an ancient tradition, the first conclave in the Sistine Chapel having been held in 1492. Cardinals burn their ballots after each inconclusive vote in a small stove connected to the chimney, and the color of the smoke signifies the outcome of each round of voting.

This famously low-tech tradition is being joined this year by the installation of a faraday cage, a wire mesh that protects against lightning strikes and prevents wireless signals from getting in or out of the conclave. This makes sure that that chimney is the only way the world will know if there is a new pope, the same way it has for centuries.

There is no definite front-runner at this point, so it could be a while after the conclave starts before we see any white smoke billowing out the top of the chimney.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio