As we all know by now, it couldn’t have been much blacker, the smoke billowing from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel at 7:42pm local time in Rome. There was some doubt if there was even going to be a vote today, but there clearly was, and why not? After the impressive and elevating vista of the cardinals entering the Chapel and taking their oaths, it made perfect sense for them to go the entire length and have the first ballot then and there.
Evidently some lessons were learned from the 2005 edition of PopeVote and the chemicals added to the smoke left no doubt about the result of the first ballot. No Pope today, but the chances for tomorrow are quite good if we consider recent conclave history. The cardinals will take ballots 2 to 5 tomorrow, and as I have posted here before, half of the last six conclaves needed five votes or less. So, who knows, tomorrow may be a day for the history books.
Remember, smoke may be expected at two times for certain (shortly before noon and between 6 and 7 in the evening) and, if there has been a positive result in ballot 2 or 4, at 10:30 or at 6 (all times are Roman ones). Some forty minutes after the smoke, we may expect the Habemus papam and our first glimpse of the new Holy Father. Keep those eyes peeled.
Photo credit: TONY GENTILE/REUTERS