Rome, March 10: Vatican officials were busy installing the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel which will release smoke, black or white, to signify whether a new pope has been elected or not.
The chimney is the first publicly cited sign of the preparations that are going on inside the chapel where Roman Catholic Cardinals will assemble on Tuesday to begin the conclave, considered the secret papal election.
Footage released by the Vatican has revealed installation of two stoves inside the chapel.
One of them is used to burn the cardinals' votes after they are cast while the second is used to send up smoke to signal the results.
In case the election remains inconclusive, a chemical is added to ensure that the smoke is black and inform those waiting outside.
In case the results are conclusive and a new incumbent is elected, white smoke is sent through the chimney. In case the smoke is released after the dark, a spotlight will be kept focused on the trail to make the smoke visible, Vatican sources said.
The cardinals met on Saturday morning as part of their General Congregations in the run-up to the conclave. These congregations are open for all cardinals, including those aged above 80, and are an important part of the preparations for the actual election.
The final congregation will take place on Monday. None of the 115 cardinal-electors can leave the Vatican City once the conclave kicks off and they will not be able to talk to outsiders either, till the entire process gets over. They will stay in Casa Santa Marta, a Vatican hotel, while the conclave is on.
The USA has 11 of the 115 votes, which makes it the second-largest national block, after Italy.