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A chimney was hoisted onto the roof of the Sistine Chapel on Saturday which will release the black or white smoke, during the conclave of Roman Catholic cardinals, that signifies whether a new pope has been elected or not.


With the conclave to begin on Tuesday, the chimney is the first publicly visible sign to the sightseers and faithful who will gather in St. Peter’s Square to see what the results will be of the secret balloting.  There is wide speculation as to whether or not the new pope would be black or American.  There is also controversy surrounding the recent resignation.

During the voting by the Cardinals, if no one has won, a chemical is added to make the smoke black. This lets people waiting in St. Peter’s Square below — and the people watching on TV around the world — know what is happening. White smoke means a new pope has been chosen.

No clear favorite has emerged as of yet to be the next pope. Although bookies around the world are still taking bets as to whom it is going to be.

The cardinals voting can’t leave Vatican City once the conclave starts until they have voted in a new pope. They are at present staying in a Vatican hotel, the Casa Santa Marta, until Tuesday morning when they will move into the Vatican to attend a special morning mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The voting will begin that afternoon. A two-thirds majority is required to elect a new pope.

In the past century, no conclave has lasted more than 5 days. Pope Benedict was elected within 24 hours of the start of the voting.