habemus papum

Today bells rang and white smoke came from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel indicating the election of a new pope. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was elected the 265th pontiff by the College of Cardinals. He was announced as tens of thousands of people cheered in St. Peter's Square. Ratzinger has chosen the name Benedict XVI.
CLICK HERE for a firsthand account from St. Peters square by Fr. Peter in Rome.

The rituals and traditions that the cardinals follow in the election process have been very fascinating to me. I heard an interesting story about the “conclave” the other day. The conclave is the area in which the cardinals are sequestered. This papal election took only two days but in the past some elections have gone much longer which is why they now have a “conclave”.

Conclave is from the Latin words:

Cum = “with”

Clavis = “key”

In the year 1271 the election that ended with the choice of Gregory X at Viterbo had lasted over two years and nine months. Because of the cardinal’s inability to come to a conclusion on the new pope the local authorities locked up the cardinals “with key” so that they would make up their minds and get on with it. Apparently after waiting for word from within the conclave for over two and a half years the people of Viterbo decided that they would up the ante and really force the cardinals’ hand. The townspeople TORE THE ROOF off of the conclave exposing the cardinals to the elements. Evidently this did the trick and the cardinals quickly came to a decision.

I have this great image in my head of all the cardinals in their red capes chanting, “Hell no, we won’t go…..”

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