Vatican City, Feb 24, 2013 / 13:12 pm
Pope Benedict XVI's successor will soon be elected during a conclave, a secret vote of cardinals that will occur in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel next month.
The number of cardinal-electors, who will travel to Rome from across the globe, is limited to 120, and only those cardinals who are not yet 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave.
Conclaves are events of "the strictest secrecy," to preserve the impartiality of proceedings. Cardinal-electors must "promise, pledge and swear...to maintain rigorous secrecy" about everything in any way related to the election of the Pope, according to John Paul II's 1996 apostolic constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis."
The cardinals are not allowed to communicate with those outside the area of the election. Only a limited number of masters of ceremonies and priests are allowed to be present, as are two medical doctors. The cardinal-electors stay at "Saint Martha's House," a guest house adjacent to St. Peter's Basilica.