No Pope Yet: Black Smoke on First Day

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Black smoke streamed from the Vatican chimney in Rome on Tuesday at 7:41 local time, about two hours after Archbishop Guido Marini, the master of papal liturgical ceremonies, senting 50 different countries. More than half are from Europe (61), while North and South America have another 33. The remaining cardinals from Africa, Asia and Oceania make a total of only 23 votes.

Chanting the litany of the saints and seeking inspiration from the Holy Spirit, they entered the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday afternoon in a solemn procession and swore oath of secrecy under Michelangelo’s Last Judgement.

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Hundreds of tourists and faithful waited in a rainy St. Peter’s Square with all eyes fixed at large screens displaying on the chimney. The smoke poured black, showing to the disappointed crowd that no candidate received the 2/3 majority required for election.

Few expected a quick decision. According to some Vatican analysts, the lack of a clear front-runner for the papacy and the Vatileaks corruption scandal looming in the background could make the conclave a longer and difficult process.

The 115 “princes of the Church” will spend the night in the Domus Sanctae Marthae (St. Martha’s House), a building inside the Vatican’s walls with comfortable hotel-style rooms.

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Tomorrow they will had breakfast between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m and, after a Mass, will return to the Sistine Chapel for the first vote of the morning session.

Up to four ballots are held each day, and the ballot papers are burned in a stove after every second vote. If there is no result, chemicals are added to produce black smoke.

If a pope is elected, a cartridge will produce white smoke, which floats up the chimney above the chapel to announce the election.

No conclave in the past century has lasted more than five days, and the election that made Benedict pope in April 19, 2005 took four ballots over two days.

PHOTO: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images