.- As cardinals from around the globe prepare to enter the Sistine Chapel on Monday to elect a new shepherd for the Catholic Church, the Vatican is asking faithful worldwide to unite themselves in prayer to the historic event. "The entire Church,” read a note from the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, “spiritually united with Mary Mother of Jesus, and called to persevere unanimously in prayer following the example of the first Christian community, lifts humble and insistent prayers to the Lord, that He may illuminate the minds of the electors and bring them to agreement, in order to obtain a prompt and unanimous election of the new Pope."
In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 18, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, will preside at a Mass "for the election of the Roman Pontiff," which will be concelebrated by the other cardinal electors.
The statement from the Office of Liturgical Celebrations stated that, "in order to show communion in prayer on the part of the entire Church at such an important moment, cardinal non-electors, bishops, priests, deacons, and members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life are also earnestly invited to participate in the celebration, as are the lay faithful of all God's people present in Rome."
The cardinals will begin the conclave at 4.30 p.m. on Monday, with an oath for the election of the new Roman Pontiff--part of the norms laid down by the "Ordo Rituum Conclavis."
The cardinal electors, who will be preceded by the Cross, and the Book of the Gospels, will chant the Litany of the Saints, and enter in procession from the Hall of Blessings to the Sistine Chapel where, after singing "Veni Creator," they will take the oath.
Besides the cardinals who will elect the new pope, the procession will also include: the secretary of the conclave, the master of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, the secretary of the cardinal dean, the ecclesiastic who will preach the meditation, masters of ceremonies, the dean, ministrants, and the "Cappella Musicale Pontificia."
The Liturgical Office’s statement added that, at 4 p.m., prior to the actual conclave, the following people may access the Sistine Chapel: the substitute of the Secretariat of State, the secretary for Relations with States, the prefect of the Pontifical Household, the two religious who supervise the sacristy, the priests charged with hearing confessions, and the commander of the Swiss Guard.
Also present will be, authorized personnel from the Swiss Guard, healthcare authorities, the floreria (a Vatican office in charge of furnishings), photographers, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Television Center, and the Holy See Press Office.