Lisa LaFlamme's Vatican Notebook: Setting up for smoke signals
Photographers stake out 'Citta del Vaticano.' Up high in the distance you can see construction crews were busy working on the Sistine Chapel. (Lisa LaFlamme/CTV News)
Lisa LaFlamme, CTV News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor
Published Saturday, March 9, 2013 11:57AM EST
I spent the morning wandering around Vatican Square among the tourists and the "Papal Paparazzi" -- teams of still photographers from all over the world with hyper-long lenses, all trained on three workers on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.
Harnessed to a rope, the workmen were either installing or inspecting the chimney where, beginning Tuesday, the first smoke signals will appear.
Amidst the architectural grandeur of the Basilica and surrounding Vatican structures, it is an impossibly small smokestack that has attracted the attention of the world.
Depending on the clarity of the sky, it may be a bit of a guessing game initially to determine if the smoke is black or white. (Black for no decision and white for the election of a new Pope.)
Today was beautiful sunshine and the square was full of people -- a lot of March Breakers -- here to witness history.
At today's Vatican press conference we learned that after the first day, they plan to burn the ballots twice a day: after the second ballot at noon local time and results of subsequent votes at 7 p.m.
However, that first day, Tuesday, there are plans to burn the ballots only once, as voting starts late in the afternoon. But if two-thirds of the cardinals (77 of the 115 electors) are in agreement on a successor for Benedict in the first ballot, we could possibly see white smoke rising as early as Tuesday evening.
We also learned:
- The Cardinals will move into their "conclave" rooms at Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning at 7 a.m.
- Their rooms were assigned by lots this morning.
- The conclave will begin Tuesday at 4:45 pm local time with a swearing-in.
- Electronic jamming devices have been installed so no information leaks out during the Conclave.
- Cardinals will return to Santa Marta at 7:30 each night.
- Every day the 115 elector cardinals will silently be transferred to the Sistine Chapel for 9:30 a.m. They will go back for lunch at 12:30 before the afternoon round of voting.
- The average conclave over history has lasted 3 days, and the the longest was 2 years, 9 months and 2 days -- but that was back in the Middle Ages.
If it does drag on: Article 74 of their constitution states that if balloting drags on without resolution beyond the 3rd day there will be one day of pause and prayer then the balloting will start again until the 11th time, and then the top two contenders compete on the basis of absolute majority. Sounds a bit like a leadership convention!
And finally: Bells will ring when pope is elected.
That's it from Vatican City today. We'll be broadcasting CTV National News live from here beginning Monday night. Hope you'll watch!
-- And please forgive me for these photos -- I took them from my BlackBerry so I didn't have the luxury of a long lens!