With a special mass and wearing read coats, hundreds of cardinals from around the world began this morning ceremonies prior to their isolation in the Sistine Chapel, where the conclave will be held in order to appoint the next leader of the Catholic Church.
The St. Peter Basilica was filled with Gregorian chants to start the “Pro eligendo Pontificie” Mass, officiated by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano. In his homily, Sodano called for unity within the church. “Each of us is called to cooperate with the successor of Peter, the visible foundation of ecclesial unity,” Sodano said.
Before the entering of the Cardinals to the Sistine Chapel, to begin the conclave, was held a procession in which the cardinals chanted the Litany of the Saints, a hypnotic Gregorian chant with which they implore the saints to help them guide their vote.
Thereafter, the Cardinals took a vow of secrecy, and heard a meditation carried out by the old Maltese Cardinal Prosper Grech. Then, the coordinator of the pontifical liturgical celebrations ordered the “Extra omnes” – “All Out” – to everyone except those who participate in the conclave, who left the chapel decorated with frescoes on the walls. The Sistine Chapel was closed temporarily for visitors as long as the conclave lasts. In Latin, conclave literally means “locked”.