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Cardinals pray in St. Peter's before deciding conclave date

Vatican Swiss guards salute as cardinals arrive for a meeting, at the Vatican, Monday, March 4, 2013. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Andrew Medichini

A service was held in St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday where cardinals who were in Rome to attend the General Congregations prayed for the church.

The celebration began with the recitation of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary in Italian and Latin. Following the Rosary there was an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a brief time for Adoration.

Then simple recitation of Vespers (the Church’s evening prayer) was presided over by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica. The rite concluded with Eucharistic Benediction offered by Cardinal Comastri.

The cardinals were waiting for the last two cardinal electors to arrive on Wednesday. They wanted time to get to know each before choosing the next pope and meanwhile would seek more information on a secret report on alleged corruption in the Vatican.

One hundred fifty-three cardinals attended a third day of preliminary meetings, known as “general congregations”, to sketch a profile for the next pope following the shock abdication of Pope Benedict last month.

Under Church law they have until March 20 to start a conclave to choose a new pope from among 115 of them who are under the age of 80, but they can decide to start it earlier.