How does the Vatican elect a new pope? 7 things to know about a conclave

What, exactly, is a conclave? And how does it work? Here are 7 key points to understanding how the Vatican prepares to elect a pope.

2. Where is a conclave held?

Conclaves are held in the Sistine Chapel, in the heart of the Vatican. In the past, the process of choosing a new pope could take days, and cardinals had to sleep in the chapel, famous for its frescoes by Michelangelo, Botticelli, and other Renaissance masters.

These days they are permitted to spend the night in a Vatican residence, but they cannot leave the walls of the city-state until a decision is made.

The conclave is held amid tight security – the chapel is swept for listening devices and cardinals must take a vow of secrecy, promising to reveal nothing to the outside world.

The cardinals are denied access to radio and television and are not allowed to carry in their mobile phones. They are prohibited from talking to the media.

2 of 7
of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.