Who will be the next Pope to enter the now locked papal apartments?
The Catholic Church is temporarily leaderless following Benedict XVI’s resignation and has begun a period of transition or Sede Vacante until his successor is elected.
The Vatican is moving quickly to start that process, announcing that the 115 eligible cardinals who have a vote and can come have been invited to Rome.
But when will the cardinals begin their deliberations?
Monday has been proposed but in a news conference on Friday it seemed that was unlikely, although Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi said complicated preparations were underway.
So-called “congregations” will be held leading up to the actual voting conclave. The cardinals will join these as they arrive. When the full contingent is complete only then will a decision be taken by them as to when the conclave will begin.
Benedict XVI, who after standing down is now known as Pope Emeritus, was the first German to be elected to the papacy. Speculation is rife over where the next one will come from.
One pilgrim to the Vatican said she regarded the position of pope as universal, so she did not favour any particular country.
Once the conclave begins, it will the first in 719 years to take place with the previous pope still alive. With possible candidates being considered from Latin America, Africa and Europe, the cardinals have much to discuss.