Papal conclave: Voting schedule

2013-03-12 14:02
The dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, leads a grand mass in St Peter's Basilica ahead of a papal election conclave. (Gabriel Bouys, AFP)

The dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, leads a grand mass in St Peter's Basilica ahead of a papal election conclave. (Gabriel Bouys, AFP)

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Vatican City — The conclave to elect a new pope begins on Tuesday at the Vatican. The voting process follows a set ritual every day until the Catholic Church has a new leader. Here is an approximate schedule. South African time listed first, Vatican City time in brackets.


— SA time 11:00 – 12:45 (Local time 10:00 - 11:45): Cardinals attend Mass in St Peter's Basilica, then return to their Vatican hotel.

— SA time 16:45 (Local time 15:45): Cardinals travel from their hotel to the Apostolic Palace.

— SA time 17:30 (Local time 16:30): Procession from the Pauline Chapel into the Sistine Chapel.

— SA time 17:45 – 21:00 (Local time 16:45 – 20:00): Each cardinal takes an oath, most likely followed by the first vote. If the vote yields a new pope, white smoke will emerge from the chimney; if not the smoke will be black.

— SA time 21:00 (Local time 20:00): Cardinals pray in the Sistine Chapel.

— SA time 21:30 (Local time 20:30): Cardinals return to their hotel.

Wednesday and onward

— SA time 08:45 (Local time 07:45): Cardinals travel to the Pauline Chapel.

— SA time 09:15 (Local time 08:15): Mass in the Pauline Chapel.

— SA time 10:30 (Local time 09:30): Prayer in the Sistine Chapel, voting starts.

— SA time 13:30 (Local time 12:30): Cardinals retire to their hotel for lunch.

— SA time 17:00 (Local time 16:00): Cardinals return to the Sistine Chapel.

— SA time 17:50 (Local time 16:50): Voting in the Sistine Chapel.

— SA time 20:15 (Local time 19:15): Prayer in the Sistine Chapel.

— SA time 20:30 (Local time 19:30): Cardinals return to their hotel.


After every three full days of voting, the cardinals break for a day of prayer and reflection, then resume for another three days. The first pause will be on Saturday if no pope has been selected before that.

The smoke

Smoke will emerge from the chimney once at the end of the morning session — at about 13:00 SA time (midday local time) — and again at the end of the afternoon session — about 20:00 SA time (19:00 local time). But if an earlier vote yields a pope, white smoke would emerge at that time, ending the conclave.

Once white smoke emerges from the chimney, a bell at the St Peter's Basilica rings. Within an hour, the man who was selected emerges onto the balcony and his identity is known.

Read more on:    roman catholic church  |  pope francis  |  vatican city  |  religion

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