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Rome Reports

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Vatican closes the Sistine Chapel as it prepares for the Conclave

FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI Vatican spokesman "This afternoon we started off some of the preparations in the Sistine Chapel. So from now on, all visits to the Vatican Museums, will be suspended. For the time being, tourists can't visit.â? The College of Cardinals decided to send  Benedict XVI a letter, thanking him for his pontificate. It partly reads: Your example has shown us, your generous pastoral concern for the good of the Church and the world. It's signed by the Dean of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, on behalf of the group. Cardinals decided that on Tuesday and Wednesday there will only be one general congregation meeting and not two. This will give them more time to talk amongst themselves. On Wednesday afternoon, all Cardinals are invited to St. Peter's Basilica, to pray for the coming conclave and the next Pope. FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI Vatican spokesman "Tomorrow afternoon there will be time for prayer in St. Peter's Basilica. It's a time to pray for the cardinals who will participate in the conclave and it's open to anyone who wishes to attend.â? As of Tuesday afternoon, 148 cardinals are in Rome, 110  of them are cardinal electors, so only five are still awaiting arrival. According to the Vatican's spokesperson, they don't all have to be in Rome, for the date of the conclave to be set. BR/KLH AA - -PR U: