Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Papal resignation and conclave - 9

These two photos give you an idea of the temporary construction which takes place in the Sistine Chapel in preparation for the conclave. Notice the tables and chairs and the wooden floor.


Papal resignation and conclave - 9


The closing of the Sistine Chapel


As of yesterday, 1:00 p.m. the Sistine Chapel is closed to visitors so that preparations can be made to host the conclave. Several major changes have to be carried out in that space. A wooden covering is constructed over the original marble floor. Over this covering, along both sides of  the chapel will be placed two long tables, one behind the other. The back one will be slightly elevated so that the view of those in the second row will not be obstructed. Then of course chairs are brought in to accommodate the 115 cardinal electors at their places along the tables.


The fireplace where the ballots are burned after each voting has to be brought into the chapel, since it and the chimney are temporary structures put up for the occasion and dismantled after the conclave. But there are actually two fireplaces brought in. One is used exclusively to burn the ballots, the other is used to send the smoke signals to the crowd in St. Peter's Square: black smoke will mean a vote in which no one received a two-thirds majority, white smoke means a pope has been elected.


What about bathroom facilities for the 115 cardinals? There are public bathrooms on the floor below the chapel, but these will not be used by the cardinals. Instead they are bringing in temporary chemical toilets for the occasion. Another good reason for protecting the precious marble floor with a wooden covering!


Of course the entire chapel will be carefully inspected to make sure no electronic listening devices have been hidden in the area. The gendarmeria vaticana (Vatican police department) is in charge of these security measures. The head of the gendarmeria, Domenico Giani, even insisted that the heat censors in the chapel be removed for the duration of the conclave, just so that they not present the appearance of hidden cameras.


Hundreds of people reserve tickets to the Vatican Museums every day. Most of them have the Sistine Chapel as the main purpose of their visit. All those who had previously made reservations for this particular period were informed by museum officials that the chapel will be off limits.  Any money paid in advance for tickets will NOT be refunded because the rest of the museum will remain open even during the conclave, although the rooms immediately adjacent to the chapel will be closed.


The titular churches


All the cardinals have a titular church in Rome. (See page 38 of The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere). The period of a papal conclave is an exciting time for the pastors and parishioners of those churches. Many of the cardinals, particularly those from outside of Rome, visit their titular church while they are here for the conclave. Some make a grand entrance into the church in a formal procession and celebrate mass. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it was refreshing to see how the Mexican cardinal, Norberto Carrera, titular cardinal of the church of San Francesco a Ripa in Trastevere, visited his church. Last Sunday he simply showed up for 11:00 mass, not to celebrate the mass, but to sit in a pew and attend mass as if he were just another parishioner.


You may be interested to know the names of the eleven American cardinal electors (under the age of 80) and their titular churches in Rome. Some of these churches are well known historic churches in the center of Rome, while others are little known outside their own parish. The list of cardinals is alphabetical by last name.


Raymond Burke: age 64, Prefect of the Apostolic Segnatura (supreme tribunal of the Church): Titular cardinal of Sant'Agata dei Goti.


Daniel Di Nardo: age 63, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston: Titular cardinal of Sant'Eusebio all'Esquilino.


Timothy Dolan: age 63, Archbishop of New York: Titular cardinal of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe in Monte Mario.


Francis George: age 76, Archbishop of Chicago: Titular cardinal of San Bartolomeo all'Isola Tiberina.


James Harvey: age 63, Archpriest of San Paolo Fuori le Mura: Titular cardinal of San Pio V a Villa Carpegna.


William Levada: age 76, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Titular cardinal of Santa Maria in Domnica.


Roger Mahoney: age 76, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles: Titular cardinal of Santi Quattro Coronati.


Edward O'Brien: age 73, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem: Titular cardinal of San Sebastiano al Palatino.


Sean O'Malley: age 68, Archbishop of Boston: Titular cardinal of Santa Maria della Vittoria.


Justin Rigali: age 77, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia: Titular cardinal of Santa Prisca.


Donald Wuerl: age 72, Archbishop of Washington, D.C.: Titular cardinal of San Pietro in Vincoli.


Of these eleven American electors, two are being mentioned in Rome as papabili (likely candidates to become pope): Dolan and O'Malley. I don't think that will happen, but one never knows. I also didn't think Benedict XVI would resign!


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