Now that the date for the papal conclave has been set, many people might wonder just what happens when the cardinals get sequestered in the Sistine Chapel. No, they don’t stop the tours because of a Washington Monument strategy to protest sequester budget cuts — well, er, they do stop tours of the Sistine Chapel, but that’s because the cardinals have to meet in isolation, and it would be a little awkward to have tourists traipsing through during a vote. In fact, the Sistine Chapel has been closed to visitors for most of the last week while security and other logistical preparations for the conclave took place.
Catholic News Service has a good five-minute explanation of the process, along with some very serious commentary from former conclave voters as to the burden they carry. One says flatly that he’s happy to be too old to participate this time (via The Anchoress):
Of course, that’s the serious take. The less-serious primer is just as accurate, but … a little more amusing. It’s a couple of weeks old, but it’s definitely worth a watch, especially if you have a burning desire to be the cause of the white smoke coming out of the chimney.
You have a more likely career track to Hollywood stardom or the NFL Hall of Fame, in other words.
Speaking of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican is allowing a small contingent of media to tour it today to give people a better idea of the preparations made for the conclave. Unfortunately I didn’t make the cut, but I hope to pick up some video from other news outlets after the video/photo tour.