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Papal window dressed for new pope

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(Rome, Italy) It was the tell-tale sign the election of a new pope is imminent:  the rich maroon draperies dressing a window, smack in the middle of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

PIX 11 saw the window on Monday, ready on the eve of the secret conclave that will pick the 266th leader of the Roman Catholic Church.  The new pontiff will be presented to the world, wearing his white vestments, once 115 Cardinals select him with a vote that must be a 2/3rds majority.

The Cardinals will celebrate Mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica on Tuesday morning, called the “Mass of the Holy Spirit.”  By 4:30 pm, they will be moving into the Sistine Chapel to begin their balloting.  Name cards for all 115 elector-Cardinals have been placed at tables in the Chapel, along with books to guide them along in the voting process.

The Cardinals will hold one ballot Tuesday evening.  If there’s no 2/3rds majority, black smoke will appear from a chimney above the Sistine Chapel.

If they move into Wednesday, the Cardinals will hold two votes in the morning and possibly two votes in the afternoon.

Benedict XVI, who recently resigned the papacy at the age of 85, was selected on the fifth ballot in 2005.

Various names are being promoted in the media as “front runners”–but the papal conclave is known to produce surprises

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, has been mentioned as a viable candidate, but the odds makers are putting more money on Cardinals like Angelo Scola of Milan and Peter Turkson of Ghana.  Another American who’s been mentioned prominently in the Italian newspapers is Sean Cardinal O’Malley of Boston.

Stay tuned to PIX 11 News at 6, 7 and 8 am–along with the news at 5 PM and 10 PM–for the latest from Rome.

We will, of course, break in to regular programming, when a new pope is elected.