“Since there is no afternoon meeting, tomorrow afternoon at 5:00 p.m. at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica, the cardinals are inviting people to a time of adoration and Vespers,” Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi announced March 5.
The proposal was made at the end of the March 5 general meeting, which was the third in a series that the cardinals are holding as they prepare for the conclave. It was gladly accepted by the cardinals.
The papal master of ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, said that it will last for approximately one hour and will begin with the recitation of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary in Italian and Latin.??
This will be followed by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a brief time for adoration.
Vespers, the evening prayer of the Church, will then be recited.
The ceremony will close with benediction offered by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica.
The initiative was announced as a way for the entire Church to gather in prayer as it prepares to make an important decision that will impact its future.
In other news, the cardinals decided to not hold afternoon sessions as they did on March 4. This will allow the newer princes of the Church to get a better grasp of the issues at hand and who the various papal contenders are.
There are still five cardinals who have not yet arrived in Rome, but they are all expected in the next couple days. Those who are not yet present are: Cardinals Antonios Naguib, Karl Lehmann, Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, Kazimierz Nycz and John Tong Hon.
Fr. Lombardi stressed that their arrival is tied to personal commitments that had already been made and that they have been in communication with the College of Cardinals about their travel plans.
Once all the cardinals arrive in Rome, there will be 115 electors who will vote for the next Pope.
Updated at 7:11 p.m. Rome time with more information about the ceremony. The story originally listed Cardinal Angelo Sodano as the presider, but no one will officially preside over the ceremony.
The College of Cardinals has agreed to hold a public prayer service on March 6 in St. Peter’s Basilica to pray for the upcoming conclave and the process of electing a new Pope.
Conclave, College of Cardinals