Once white smoke appeared, over 150 gathered in Scooter's to watch the action live from Rome awaiting the news of our new Pope.


Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. has been elected Pope Francis! White smoke appeared over the Sistine Chapel at 1:06 p.m. CDT (7:06 Rome time) and the new Pope appeared on the balcony at 2:12 p.m. CDT (8:12 p.m. Rome time).

Join us in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas for a Mass for Pope Francis, Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 7 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.

The Latest News


Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. has been elected Pope Francis!  White smoke appeared over the Sistine Chapel at 1:06 p.m. CDT (7:06 Rome time) and the new Pope appeared on the balcony at 2:12 p.m. CDT (8:12 p.m. Rome time).

 Join us in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas for a Mass for Pope Francis, Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 7 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.


All 115 Cardinal Electors have entered the Sistine Chapel and the doors have been shut.  Special care has been taken so no electronic bugs or technological devices are able to leak information in or out of the Conclave.  One voting session will occur this evening.  4 votes will be taken each day until someone wins a 2/3 majority, 77 votes for this Conclave.


On Tuesday, March 12, a "pro eligio Romano Pontifice" Mass or Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff will be celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in the morning.  At 3:45 p.m. (9:45 a.m.) the Cardinal Electors will gather in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.  At 4:30 p.m. they will process to the Sistine Chapel and take the solemn oath of secrecy.  The Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations will proclaim "Extra omnes!" and the doors will be sealed.  After the second of two required meditations, the first vote will take place.


As of 12 PM CST on March 7th, all cardinal electors have arrived in Rome.


One 1 Cardinal Elector has yet to arrive as of the morning of March 7.  As such, no date for Conclave has been set.  The Cardinals continue to debate and prepare.  The Sistine Chapel was closed to the public on March 5 and workmen have begun to prepare tables, black out windows, and set up the famous chimney by which the election or non-election of the new Pontiff will first reach the world.


5 Cardinal electors have yet to arrive in Rome as of the end of the day on March 5.  The Cardinals continue once daily meetings and are in no to rush to set a date for the start of Conclave.  Proper prayer, discussion, and preparation remain the highest priority over any speedy election of a successor to Benedict XVI.

The College of Cardinals has called the Universal Church to prayer for the 115 electors at 5 p.m. Rome time (10 a.m. CST) on Wednesday, March 6.  The Cardinals will gather for Vespers and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica.


Cardinals in Rome met for the first time on Monday, March 4.  They took a portion of an oath concerning the election of the Pope, selected Cardinals to assist with the interregnum governance of the Church, and completed other business in accord with the Apostolic Constitution which lays out the guidelines for a Papal election.  No date has been set for Conclave to begin since 12 electors have not yet arrived in Rome.


On Friday, March 1 or the first full day of Sede Vacante and the Interregnum (between reigns), Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, officially called the College to their first General Congregation on Monday, March 4.  Two meetings will be held that day: one at 9:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m. CST) and a second at 5 p.m. (10 a.m. CST).


At 5:05 p.m. (Rome time) precisely on February 28, Pope Benedict XVI left Vatican City by helicopter to a peal of bells from St. Peter’s Basilica.   He flew to Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Pope, where he will reside for the next few weeks.  He appeared on the balcony to greet the crowds who gathered in the courtyard, imparting his last Apostolic Blessing.


The Vatican announced on February 26 that Pope Benedict XVI will be called “Pontiff or Pope Emeritus” upon his resignation.  He will maintain the title of His Holiness, Benedict XVI and will continue to wear a white cassock without the mozetta (shoulder cape) or red shoes.  The Fisherman’s Ring and lead seal will be destroyed.  At the moment of “Sede Vacante” the Swiss Guard will turn over protection to the Vatican Gendarmerie.

Pope Benedict XVI signed a “motu proprio” stating, among other stipulations, that the Cardinals could convene Conclave prior to the 15-day waiting period after Sede Vacante.  The Cardinals will be convoked on March 1 and other decisions will be made after that point.

Benedict XVI's Resignation

"With full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is."

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013 


On February 28, 2013 at 8 p.m. Rome Time (1 p.m. CST), the Apostolic See of St. Peter becomes vacant.  The Pope is, centrally, the bishop of Rome.  Catholics believe in the primacy of the bishop of Rome as a central authority figure for the Church.  This authority is drawn from the Gospels where Jesus hands the keys of the kingdom to Peter, the first Pope.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  Matthew 16:18-19

Sede Vacante

At the time designated by Pope Benedict XVI for his resignation, Sede Vacante (Latin for empty seat) occurs.  The seat of Peter becomes vacant and there is no Pope.  Pope Benedict XVI becomes Bishop Emeritus of Rome.  The authority of the Papacy is transferred throughout the College of Cardinals.  The Holy See and the worldwide Church prepares for Conclave which begins at least 15 but no more than 20 days after the Pope’s resignation or death.



The College of Cardinals gather in Conclave (Latin for with key) to elect a new Pope.  The Conclave has traditionally occurred in the Sistine Chapel within the Vatican grounds.

On the day the Conclave is to begin, the Cardinals celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, hear sermons on the current state of the Church and qualities the new pope ought to possess.  They enter the Sistine Chapel singing Veni Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit).  The Dean of the College of Cardinals then proclaims “Extra omnes!”  (Everyone out!)  The doors are sealed and the Cardinals are locked in alone with God and one another.  Careful precautions are taken so that no outside influences reach the Cardinals.  All those inside Conclave are sworn to secrecy regarding the proceedings within.

Voting Process

The Conclave holds four ballots per day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon.  Throughout the course of the day, the Cardinals discuss, debate, and above all, pray.  When it comes time for a vote, each Cardinal receives a ballot which says Eligo in Summum Pontificem or I elect as Supreme Pontiff.  The ballots are entirely anonymous.

 Each Cardinal comes before the altar in the Sistine Chapel and lays the ballot on top of a chalice and paten (or plate).  Each Cardinal places their ballot on the paten, swears before God that they are voting for the man whom they believe should be elected, and uses the paten to drop the ballot in the chalice.  When all ballots are cast, a team of three Cardinals counts the ballots.  If a 2/3 majority is reached, the new Pope is elected.  If the 2/3 majority is not reached, the process continues.

Habemus Papam!

After the elected person accepts the office of Supreme Pontiff, he is then asked the name by which he will be known.  He is led to the “Room of Tears”, a small red room just off the Sistine Chapel.  It is so called because often, the newly elected Pope is overcome with emotion at the realization of the ministry he is about to undertake.

The Senior Cardinal Deacon comes out to the balcony of the Saint Peter’s Basilica and says in Latin: "I announce to you a great joy: We have a Pope!  The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lord, Lord [first name], Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church [last name], who takes to himself the name [name as Pope]."  Then the newly elected Pope processes onto the balcony.  After a short address, he gives his first Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) blessing.


A few days after the election, the Pope is inaugurated at a Mass.  He receives the symbols of the Papacy including the pallium (a wool shawl placed on his shoulders) and the fisherman’s ring (on which is engraved the Papal Seal).  A few days after the Inauguration, the Pope visits each of the Papal Basilicas in Rome including his own Cathedral Church, St. John Lateran.

Events at UST

White smoke rising from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel announces that a new Pope has been elected.
To ensure you don't miss the white smoke, visit www.popealarm.com

If white smoke appears during the day:

As soon as you hear the news of the white smoke, join us in Scooter's to watch the action from Rome LIVE. We will be broadcasting the Vatican feed of the excitement in Rome and the moment when we hear the words "Habemus Papam" and our new Pope speaks for the first time.

If white smoke appears in the early morning hours:

We will rebroadcast the white smoke and the Habemus Papam moment at 11 AM in Scooter's.


Links, Videos, Photos, & more

Interactive Conclave Animation

How to become Pope
(A 5 minute explanation with a few Monty Python references)

This video, while providing some great information in a comical way, does portray the Papacy as a career ambition.  It is important to remember the Papacy is a ministry of service.  The Pope is “the servant of the servants of God.”

The Final Days of Pope Benedict XVI’s Pontificate

Praying for the Cardinals as they vote in the Conclave:

Article about UST students studying abroad in Rome this semester

Information (photos, bios, etc) on the Cardinal Electors

Video of Panel Discussion of UST Theology Department

The making of a Pope

The black & white photos below are of Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) at UST in 1984