How are popes elected and how did this tradition start ?
The word conclave designates the place in a locked section of the Vatican where the cardinals remain until a new pope is elected. It is also used to designate the actual gathering of the cardinals.
Before the conclave: The cardinals may discuss the upcoming election with one another. The conclave begins fifteen to twenty days after the pope's death.
The actual conclave: After the celebration of Mass, the cardinal dean presides over the preliminary sessions, where procedures regulated by canon law are clarified. Then all others are dismissed and the cardinals are sealed in the Sistine Chapel where the voting takes place, every morning and afternoon.
Until recently a two-thirds majority plus one was required for election. After his election Pope John Paul II changed this. Now if there is no conclusive vote after thirty ballots, an absol ...more
Know the Candidates. Popes are usually picked from the membership of the College. The most likely candidates are referred to as "papabile." It's been said that "Any man who walks into the conclave a pope will leave as a cardinal," but this saying isn't necessarily true. Cardinal Ratzinger, for instance, was high on the list of papabile, and he in fact was elected as pope in 2005. Vatican watchers often speculate that th ...more
A history of political interference in papal selection and consequently long vacancies between popes, culminating in the interregnum of 12681271, prompted Pope Gregory X to decree during the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 that the cardinal electors should be locked in seclusion cum clave (Latin for "with a key") and not permitted to leave until a new Bishop of Rome had been elected. Conclaves are now held in the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.
Since the Apostolic Age, the Bishop of Rome, like other bishops, was ...more