Once you get past news of snow and the prison sentences for untruthful politicians/politicians ex-wives, the next story is almost certain to be the meeting of conclave in Rome to debate and choose the new Pope.
The current system of electing the new Pope, coloured smoke and all, was introduced in 1274 by Gregory X. In 2013, 115 cardinals who pass the ‘under 80′ test have gathered under the gaze of Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” to make a selection which is eagerly anticipated by the worlds one billion plus Catholics.
The average length of the last nine conclaves was just over three days and none went on for more than five days. Each day has a maximum of four votes, starting on Wednesday, and the voting continues until one man has two-thirds (77) or more of the votes.
Vatican insiders say Italy’s Angelo Scola and Brazil’s Odilo Scherer have emerged as the men to beat. The former would bring the papacy back to Italy for the first time in 35 years, while the latter would be the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.
However, a host of other candidates from numerous nations have also been mentioned.
In a process dating back to medieval times, the “Princes of the Church” from 48 countries will shut themselves in the Vatican’s beautiful Sistine Chapel.
They will emerge from their seclusion only when they have chosen the 266th pontiff in the 2,000-year-history of the Church.
The above map, available at http://hickory.ca/cardinals (from the blog Making maps with tabletop and Google Spreadsheets) shows where these cardinals come from, and if you hover over the red dots you can get more information back about each member of the conclave (in Firefox at least), using a wikipedia link and a link to twitter feeds about each Cardinal.
We’ll just have to wait for the white smoke.