Conclave 2013: the timetable

As  a result of a near-unanimous vote in yesterday’s General Congregation, the College of Cardinals have agreed to begin the conclave to elect a new pope on Tuesday. This is the timetable.

On Tuesday morning, at 7am, the 115 cardinal electors will move to the Domus Santae Marthae, the Vatican hostel situated 500 yards from the Sistine Chapel, where they will reside during the conclave, returning there to rest, eat and sleep. IMG_8095

At 10am Tuesday, the solemn Mass prior to a conclave, Pro eligendo Romano Pontifice, will be celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica, presided by the Cardinal Dean, Angelo Sodano, and concelebrated by all the cardinals.

After retiring to the Domus Sancthae Marthae, at 3.45pm they will move from there to the Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace. At 4.30pm they will process from the Pauline Chapel to the Sistine Chapel, where they will take an oath to abide by the rules of the conclave. After all have taken the oath, the Master of papal liturgies, will call out: Extra Omnes!, meaning that all except those taking part in the conclave, or their assistants, the conclavisti, must now leave.

fumata-biancaAfter listening to a meditation by Cardinal Grech on the solemn duty they are now undertaking, and the need to vote for the good of the Church, they will proceed to the first vote, or ‘scrutiny’, at about 6pm. At 7.15pm, they have will have Vespers in the Sistine Chapel, before being transferred back to the Domus Santae Marthae for supper at 8pm.

conclave1From Wednesday, the timetable each day of the conclave will be as follows:

6.30-7.30am Breakfast; 7.45am transfer to the Pauline Chapel; 8.15-9.15am Mass in the Pauline Chapel; 9.30am transfer to Sistine Chapel for Morning Prayer, and the scrutinies; 1230 transfer to Domus Sanctae Marthae for lunch and rest (1-4pm); 4pm, transfer to Sistine Chapel; 4.50pm Scrutinies; 7.15pm Vespers (Sistine Chapel); 7.30pm transfer to Domus Sanctae Marthae; 8pm dinner.

From Wednesday, for three days (as long as the pope is not chosen), the cardinals will vote four times each day: twice in the morning, twice in the afternoon. So the scrutinies will be: Tuesday pm: Scrutiny 1; Wednesday am: Scrutinies 2 & 3; pm: 4 & 5; Thursday am: 6 & 7; pm: 8 & 9; Friday am: 10 & 11, pm: 12 & 13.

stovesAfter this time, there is a break in voting for a day — an unlikelihood, given that modern conclaves have not lasted more than three days. After 34 scrutinies, the two candidates with the greatest number of votes are then put to a run-off vote, but still needing two-thirds of the vote.

At the end of the morning’s two scrutinies and at the end of the afternoon’s two scrutinies, the ballots are burned. This means that the smoke — the fumata — will be seen twice a day, at midday and at 7pm, after the second and fourth scrutinies of the day. If no pope has been elected, it will be black; if a pope has been chosen, it will be white. If the new pope has been elected on the first or the third scrutiny, the white smoke — fumata bianca — will be earlier, around 10-10.30, or 5.30-6pm, following the pope’s acceptance of the decision of the College, and saying what name he will take.

After the cardinals have all greeted the new pope, he will come out onto the balcony, after the cardinal protodeacon, Cardinal Tauran, has announced his name with the famous words: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus Papam!

(See or download this graphic showing the papal election process, courtesy of

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