The black smoke that rose from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel on Monday evening signalled the first day of conclave ending with no decision on who will be the next pope.
St Martha’s House inside the Vatican walls is where the cardinals will spend every night until a new pontiff is elected.
One hundred and fifteen cardinals were confined to the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday afternoon for the ‘conclave’ which takes its meaning from the Latin for a place that can be locked with a key.
Decked in scarlet robes, the cardinals chanted the traditional Litany of the Saints during the procession as they filed into the Chapel.
Then came prayers for divine inspiration during their deliberations on who will replace Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to retire in almost 600 years.
Archbishop of Milan Angelo Scola is the favourite. The 72-year-old is seen as a conservative, and theologically close to the outgoing pontiff and Pope John Paul II before him.
The bookmakers’ second pick, is Odila Scherer is the Archbishop of Sao Paolo. The 63-year-old Brazilian speaks a number of languages and is seen as having close ties to the Curia, the Catholic Church’s governing body.
Though it is seen as unlikely that an American will be chosen, one frontrunner is the charismatic and media-friendly Cardinal of New York, Timothy Dolan.
At age 55, Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Tagle is one of the youngest papal candidates. The Filipino’s youth could be seen a draw for younger generations of Catholics all over the world.
There’s no guarantee that any of these men will be chosen to become ‘God’s representative on Earth’. Previous conclaves have produced surprises and several other names have also emerged as potential popes.