VATICAN CITY, APRIL 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- A video produced by the Vatican Television Center was shown to journalists, giving them a glimpse of the venues where the conclave to choose a new pope will take place.
The most important venue is the Sistine Chapel, where the voting for the election of the new pontiff takes place under Michelangelo’s frescoes, and the Domus Sanctae Marthae, or St. Martha’s House, the residence where the 115 cardinal electors will be housed.
This residence, built by order of John Paul II near Paul VI Hall, is of sober style, and includes 106 suites, 22 simple rooms, and an apartment. The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul look after the residence.
The video, shown today to the journalists, presented the rooms, chapel, refectory, and other areas, as well as the path the cardinals must take to reach the Sistine Chapel.
In their walk between the buildings they will not be able to be contacted by anyone who is not part of the conclave. The conclave starts next Monday.
The video also showed images of objects that will characterize this conclave as, for example, the urns that will be used to collects the slips of paper with the cardinals’ votes.
Until the last conclave held in 1978, the urns were chalices and cups used for this purpose. The three urns that will be used this time were made by Italian sculptor Cecco Buonanotte, decorated with symbols of the Christian tradition — the Good Shepherd, sheafs of wheat, bunches of grapes, birds — which will have a precise purpose.
One will serve to collect the votes of the cardinals present in the Sistine Chapel.
Another will be used to collect the votes from the rooms of sick cardinals in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, who are unable to go to the Sistine Chapel.
The third will be used to collect the slips of paper after the recount, before they are burned.
The journalists also saw images of the stove that produces the famous smoke that announces the lack of success in the voting or, when it is white, the election of a new pope.
It is an old iron stove, one and a half meters high, in which all the slips of paper will be incinerated after each round of voting.
At the last election, there were doubts about the color of the smoke. This time, the white smoke will be accompanied by the ringing of the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica.