- - Tuesday, March 12, 2013

VATICAN CITY — Jet-black smoke billowed from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel Tuesday evening local time, indicating that the first round of voting for the successor to Pope Benedict XVI had been inconclusive.

The smoke did not emerge until after dark, with only a few hundred people on hand in St. Peter’s Square amid cold and drizzly conditions.

With the initial vote concluded, the 115 cardinals meeting in secret in the Sistine Chapel were scheduled to recite vespers, an evening prayer, Vatican officials said, before traveling to the St. Martha House, adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica, for dinner.

After that, more prayers and reflection before an early start on Wednesday, the first full day of the conclave. Up to four votes will take place each day beginning Wednesday — two before lunch and two after — every day until one of the 115 cardinals accumulates 77 votes, a two-thirds majority, enough to become the next pope.

“I wanted to be here for the first vote because it is part of history,” sand Tonino Biaggi, 33, a worker in a nearby coffee bar. “I cannot attend for every vote, but at least I can say I was in St. Peter’s Square for the first one.”

In 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Benedict XVI after he was selected on the fourth ballot.


SEE ALSO: HARPER: As the voting starts, U.S. media have missed the story in Rome


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