.- An overwhelming majority of the College of Cardinals agreed on holding the conclave March 12 because the Sistine Chapel and St. Martha House needed more time to be ready for it.
Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi told journalists March 9 that the chamberlain of the College, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, updated the cardinals on the status of preparations needed to begin the conclave, which effectively ruled out an earlier date.
At the March 8 evening session, the “overwhelming majority” of the 145 cardinals voted to hold the conclave on March 12. The vote was the first thing on the agenda for the 5:00 p.m. meeting.
During their Saturday morning session the cardinals drew lots for rooms at the St. Martha House where they will be staying during the conclave. The house is located just behind and to the left of St. Peter’s Basilica inside the Vatican and during non-conclave times people who work in the Vatican live there.
The residents of St. Martha will be moved out in time for the cardinals move-in on Tuesday morning, beginning at 7:00 a.m.
On Saturday morning at around 11:00 a.m., workmen could be seen on the roof of the Sistine Chapel installing the famous chimney that will become the focus of hundreds of television cameras next week.
The Mass for Election of a New Pontiff will take place on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. The cardinals will enter the conclave at approximately 5:00 p.m. on the same day.
The first possible smoke sighting will be on Tuesday evening at around 7:00 p.m.
There will be four votes per day, with two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Smoke is always sent up after the two morning votes – around noon – and then again after the afternoon set of votes – around 7:00 p.m..
However, if the first vote of either the morning or afternoon set results in the election of a new Pope, the smoke will be seen earlier.