Smoke from the Sistine Chapel: Matt's Memo

Andy Wolf, Matt Mulcahy, David Fulkerson at St. Peter's Square. Roof of Sistine Chapel directly above Dave's left shoulder.

The world could now be just hours away from learning who will lead one billion Catholics around the world. The Conclave of Cardinals is expected to take its initial vote by late afternoon Rome time. That is when we will see the traditional smoke coming from the newly installed temporary chimney coming from the roof of the Sistine Chapel. The first smoke is likely to be black indicating more deliberation will take place.

My personal perspective of this selection process has changed since I spent a week at the Vatican last fall covering the Canonization of the Mother Marianne Cope. Our workspace was right across the street from St. Peter's Basilica. From the window in the convent where we wrote and edited stories and filed live reports we could see the window of the Pope's quarters and the roof of the chapel from which smoke will eminate this week.

Then there is the wonder of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo's great work provides a nearly miraculous canopy for the Cardinals who will prayer, discuss and vote on the next Pontiff.

In an era of Twitter, Facebook and high speed WiFi it is rich to note the world will wait this week for a puff of white smoke as an alert that the next leader of the university church has been chosen.


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