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Vatican firefighters secure a smokestack on the roof of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican March 9. Smoke coming from the chimney will be the only sign to the world of how things are progressing inside the chapel during the conclave. White smoke signals that the cardinal electors have elected a new pope. Black smoke indicates voting has been not been conclusive. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Yesterday Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, SJ released a schedule for the sessions of the conclave to elect a new pope, set to begin Tuesday, March 12, including a time-table for when the “fumata” (the black or white smoke indicating whether or not a new pontiff has been elected) can be expected from the Sistine Chapel chimney.

On Tuesday morning, a Mass “For the Election of the Roman Pontiff” will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, presiding. Later that day:

On Tuesday at 3:45pm, the cardinals will move from the Domus Sanctae Marthae to the Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace. At 4:30pm, the cardinals will process from the Pauline Chapel to the Sistine Chapel and, after they have all taken the oath, the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations will give the order “Extra omnes” for all those not taking part in the Conclave to leave the Sistine Chapel. The cardinals will listen to a meditation given by Cardinal Grech, concerning the grave duty incumbent on them and thus on the need to act with right intention for the good of the Universal Church, after which they will proceed to the first vote. At 7:00pm they will pray Vespers and, at 7:30pm, will return to the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Beginning on Wednesday, 13 March, the cardinals will move from the Domus Sanctae Marthae to the Pauline Chapel at 7:45am where, at 8:15am, they will celebrate Mass. At 9:30am they will enter the Sistine Chapel, pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and proceed to the voting process. Around 12:00pm they will return to the Domus Sanctae Marthae and, after lunch there, will go back to the Sistine Chapel at 4:00pm where they will pray briefly and resume the voting procedure until 7:00pm.

Catholic News Service’s Cindy Wooden explains the “windows” during which smoke can be expected during the days of voting below; I’ve added the US Eastern times in brackets:

The first smoke signal can be expected about 7 p.m. [2 pm ET] Tuesday, after the first vote.

Beginning Wednesday, smoke would be expected at about noon [7 am ET] and again about 7 p.m [2 pm ET].

However, if a pope is elected on the first ballot of the morning, the white smoke would billow forth between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. [5:30 am and 6 am ET]. If he is elected on the first ballot of the afternoon, the white smoke would be seen between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. [12:30 pm and 1 pm ET].

After a white smoke signal, it takes about 40-45 minutes before the announcement of the name of the candidate who won. He must accept the office, change to white vestments and the cardinals pledge their obedience and pray again.

From Robert Moynihan comes a final detail; the words that will be proclaimed to the world following the election of a new pope:

Once a Pope is elected, and accepts his election, the senior Cardinal Deacon (the Cardinal Protodeacon, currently Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran) appears at the main balcony of the basilica’s façade to proclaim the new Pope with the Latin phrase (assuming the new Pope is a cardinal):

 

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum:

Habemus Papam!

Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,

Dominum [forename],

Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem [surname],

qui sibi nomen imposuit [papal name].

 

(“I announce to you a great joy:

We have a Pope!

The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lord,

Lord [forename],

Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church [surname],

who takes to himself the name [papal name].”)

 

 
About the Author
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.
 
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