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A look at the History of the Conclave

2013-03-11

AMBROGIO PIAZZONI
Vatican's Apostolic Library, Director
"At first, the election of a Pope, was much like the way bishops were elected in the first century. It was the Christian community, so really the Christian assembly of Rome who would chose Rome's bishop, who in essence, then became the Pope.”

But with time, the Church began to grow, so to prevent any outside influences from filtering in the election process, a Pope called for change and marked a new direction for the Church.

AMBROGIO PIAZZONI
Vatican's Apostolic Library, Director
"It was Pope Leo IX, who in the year 1049, concretely decided that it would be only Cardinals who would elect a Pope.”

Even though the Conclave has take place in the Sistine Chapel for years now, it was never the official site, until John Paul II added a clause to the apostolic constitution.

It's an election process where religion, tradition, mystery, suspense and quite often, surprise come together.

AMBROGIO PIAZZONI
Vatican's Apostolic Library, Director
"Usually the elected Pope is different from what people expect or imagine. I would say that maybe 12 or 15 times, the person who was believed to be elected as Pope, actually was. That's not a high number, considering there have been roughly 300 Papal elections.”

It's all held behind closed doors, hence the name 'conclave,' meaning with key. Each cardinal has an assigned seat...and so, the voting process begins, marking another chapter in the history of the Church.


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