Black smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel chimney on Tuesday evening in Rome, signalling a new pope hasn’t been chosen following the the cardinals’ first vote to elect a new pontiff on Tuesday evening.
Canadian top contender Marc Ouellet and 114 other cardinals took the oath and sealed themselves into the ornate Sistine Chapel early Tuesday evening. Pope Benedict retired last month after eight years in office, citing his advanced age of 85.
Ouellet is a Quebec native who holds a powerful post in the Vatican where he plays a key role in the selection of bishops and archbishops around the world.
The centuries-old process for choosing a new pope is veiled in secrecy and the chapel has been swept for listening devices by Vatican security.
The election of the new pope is being signalled by a puff of white smoke from a special chimney installed on the roof of the Vatican.
Black smoke indicates no decision has been reached. Several rounds of balloting could be held and the conclave will go on until a new pontiff is chosen. The next voting begins Wednesday morning.
Auravelia Colomer, 27, cashed in all her annual vacation time to make the pilgrimage to Italy. The Toronto public relations consultant was originally meant to arrive in Rome for Holy Week but set her sights on witnessing the new pope’s election after the date of the conclave was announced.
“I thought I needed to be there. It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s going to be historic,” said Colomer, who waited on standby over the weekend before finally securing a flight for Tuesday night.
She’s hoping to get there before the decision is made and plans to “run over to St. Peter’s Square and camp out until I see the smoke.”
Colomer said it’s long been her dream to be present for such a pivotal moment for the Catholic faith, but admits “the possibility of a Canadian pope is also a driving factor.”
Cardinals held a final debate on Monday on the type of man best suited for the job.
Some wonder whether Catholics need a solid manager to address the Vatican bureaucracy and controversies over scandals and alleged corruption or a more inspirational figure to bring more people into the church.
Other possible candidates include Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, and Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Scherer.