VATICAN CITY [Peter Paul Media] — Unmistakable black smoke billowed out of a chimney above the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel Tuesday indicating the 115 Cardinals inside were undecided as to who would become the next Pope, Vatican Radio reported.
The Cardinals entered the Sistine Chapel at about 4:30 p.m. local time, meeting for just over 3 hours for the first ballot—the results of which led to black smoke emerging from the chimney at 7:40 p.m. local time, signalling no Pope had been elected.
The next ballot is Wednesday morning and if a 266th Successor of Peter is elected, white smoke will emanate from the smokestack between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. ET, indicating a new Pontiff. When the new Pope is elected, it will take about 40 minutes for him to accept office, get changed into his new, white vestments and then introduce himself publicly for the first time, Vatican Radio said.
Beginning Wednesday, the 115 Cardinals will submit four ballots per day—two in the morning and two in the afternoon—burned after each session. There will be two smoke signals daily—one for the morning ballot, the other for the afternoon ballot scheduled for 7 p.m. local time [2 p.m. ET].
Inside the Sistine Chapel during one of the most sacred rituals in history, the Cardinals are seated based on their hierarchical presence from highest to lowest—Cardinal-bishops then Cardinal-priests followed by the Cardinal-deacons.
Europe is most-represented during conclave with 60 Cardinals. There are 19 Cardinals from Latin America, 14 from North America, 11 from Africa and 10 from Asia—4.
Canadian frontrunner Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 68, currently serves as head of the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops—considered the most powerful position in the Vatican. He is fluent in six languages including English, French, German and Italian. In 2011, he said being the Pope “would be a nightmare” citing the previous Pontiff’s workload.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI became the first Pope to resign in 600 years on February 28. He cited deteriorating health as a key factor in a statement. He was pictured days after his retirement near Rome.
View profiles of key front-runners for 266th Pontiff here.
The words “Habemus Papam” [“We have a Pope”] will echo from the central façade of St. Peters Basilica prior to the introduction of the new Pontiff.