Martedì, 16 Ottobre 2018

Vatican preparing Sistine Chapel for upcoming conclave


Rome, February 22 - A team of 40 workers is making
everything ready for the Sistine Chapel when it hosts one of the
most important events in the Catholic Church: the election of a
new pope.
The team, officially called the "Floreria" is carefully
following the pattern set in April 2005 when cardinals last
gathered beneath Michelangelo's masterpiece The Last Judgement
on the altar wall of the chapel, and voted to choose Pope
Benedict XVI.
Without knowing the precise date of the conclave, the team
is racing against the clock to have every detail perfectly
prepared for the 117 cardinals who will be shut up inside the
fortress-like chapel until a new pope is found.
Benedict shocked the world when he announced on February 11
that he would resign the papacy on February 28.
Since a pope hasn't resigned in roughly 600 years - most die
in office - the unprecedented nature of this particular conclave
has created some uncertainty.
Some say the pope is considering a temporary change to papal
rules that would waive the requirement that the conclave cannot
begin for at least 15 days after a pope's departure.
If that happens, the conclave could begin sooner than the
March 15, when many had expected the conclave to commence.
So, just in case the conclave is held early, the Vatican
team working under Paul Sagretti, deputy director of the
Floreria, is moving even more quickly.
"Until the date of the conclave, we live from day to day,"
explains Sagretti, whose office is charged with organizing most
major events inside the Vatican.
Even some furnishing that were used for the balloting that
elected Pope Benedict XVI are being re-used.
No detail is left to chance as the Floreria workers
carefully follow photos taken from previous conclaves, so that
everything is arranged inside the Sistine Chapel in precisely
the same manner as in previous conclaves.
That will include 117 chairs made of cherry wood for the
voting cardinals, with seating assigned by place cards bearing
the papal coat of arms, and 12 wooden tables covered with beige
cloth and burgundy satin.
Six tables are placed on the right side of the chapel and
six on the left, arranged in two rows of different levels. A
13th table is placed at front of the chapel, before the altar,
where an urn is placed to contain used ballots as well as a
A wooden platform has been built about 60 centimetres above
the Sistine Chapel floor, covered with a beige fabric, so
cardinals won't walk on the tiled floor of the chapel but
instead are elevated to the level of the second step of the
A velvet bag contains the ballots which each cardinal will
draw come voting time.
Finally, two stoves have been connected inside the Sistine
Chapel, so after a vote, ballots can been burned with a coloured
chemical. The relatively rare white smoke indicates that the
conclave of cardinals have reached a decision on who will head
the Catholic Church.
Black smoke sends the signal that another vote must be
According to Sagretti, recent conclaves have been much
easier for the Floreria to organize than those in the past.
Until the 1970s, the Floreria also had to arrange all of the
accommodations for the cardinals arriving from around the world.
Fortunately, with the construction of the residence of Santa
Marta to house the cardinals, that task has been lessened.

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