What will happen inside the Conclave, from before the Cardinal-electors enter the Sistine Chapel and be sealed from the outside world, until a new Pope had been elected? Follow the proceedings of the Conclave step-by-step as I explained them here in three parts (Part I, Part II, and Part III) :
1. Before the Conclave, the Cardinals gather in the General Congregations, or meetings where they will raise issues and discuss these matters pertaining to the Church, its governance, and many other matters they may want to bring up to attention to the whole College of Cardinals.
Of great importance is also the necessary and wanted qualities in the next Pope, which will therefore allow the Cardinals to make an informed decision on who to elect. Then finally, the General Congregation also decides the date of the Conclave, when they will actually enter the Sistine Chapel and begin the Conclave officially.
The Conclave can begin only after 15 days of the vacancy of the Apostolic See, but must not begin later than 20 days after the vacancy according to the rules governing the Conclave as written in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis. However, the provision provided by the Motu Proprio Normas Nonnullas allow the Cardinals to begin the Conclave less than 15 days from the date when the Apostolic See became vacant, providing that all the Cardinal-electors that will take part in the Conclave had all arrived in Rome by then.
The Cardinal-electors will also be assigned their rooms in their residence throughout the Conclave period, the Domus Sancta Marthae by the means of random lots.
2. Particular Congregations also meet during this period before the Conclave, led by Cardinal leaders elected every 3 days, to discuss issues within specific groups within the College of Cardinals, and to complement the General Congregation meetings.
Unlike the General Congregation meeting which can be attended by Cardinal-electors and non-electors (those above the age of 80) alike, Particular Congregations are only attended by Cardinal-electors, and unlike General Congregation which meets before the Conclave, the Particular Congregations continue into the Conclave.
3. Before the Conclave begins, the Cardinals gather and celebrate together the Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff or the Missa pro Eligendo Pontifice in St. Peter’s Basilica, to pray for the successful election of the new Pope in the Conclave.
4. Then the Cardinals gather in the Pauline Chapel just before the start of the Conclave in complete choir dress (biretta and mozzetta), and then lead by the Cardinal Dean of the College of Cardinals (currently Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who is a non-elector, and therefore he will not join the Conclave after that) or the most senior Cardinal Bishop who is an elector (Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re), they proceed into the Sistine Chapel while singing together the Hymn Veni Creator Spirit, to invoke the Holy Spirit, and also the Litany of the Saints to ask the prayer from the holy Saints of God on the Cardinal-electors in the election of the new Pope.
The Cardinals will proceed in reverse order of precedence, beginning with the most junior Cardinal Deacon, to the most senior Cardinal Deacon, and then the most junior Cardinal Priest, and to the most senior Cardinal Priest, and then the most junior Cardinal Bishop to the most senior Cardinal Bishop. The last will be the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations (Monsignor Guido Marini) and the Cardinal Dean (In 2013 conclave, as the Cardinal Dean, Cardinal Angelo Sodano is over 80 and thus is not an elector, he was replaced with the most senior Cardinal Bishop who is an elector, in this case, Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re).
5. Once in the Sistine Chapel, the Cardinal-Dean or the senior Cardinal Bishop-elector will then read out aloud the oath that all the Cardinals have to take, according to the formula written in the Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis, and with the modifications made by the Motu Proprio Normas Nonnullas, all the other personnels involved in the Conclave, and sealed inside the Conclave also have to take the same oath. Then the Cardinal-electors by their order of precedence, march one by one to an open Book of the Gospels, to make the oath by touching their hands on the Gospels and solemnly vow to keep the oath.
The oath in Latin :
Ego N. N. promitto et iuro me inviolate servaturum esse secretum absolutum cum omnibus quotquot participes non sunt Collegii Cardinalium electorum, hoc quidem in perpetuum, nisi mihi datur expresse peculiaris facultas a novo Pontifice electo eiusve Successoribus, in omnibus quae directe vel indirecte respiciunt suffragia et scrutinia ad novum Pontificem eligendum.
Itemque promitto et iuro me nullo modo in Conclavi usurum esse instrumentis quibuslibet ad vocem transmittendam vel recipiendam aut ad imagines exprimendas quovis modo aptis de iis quae tempore electionis fiunt intra fines Civitatis Vaticanae, atque praecipue de iis quae quolibet modo directe vel indirecte attinent ad negotia coniuncta cum ipsa electione. Declaro me editurum esse ius iurandum utpote qui plane noverim quamlibet eius violationem adducturam esse excommunicationis mihi poenam latae sententiae Sedi Apostolicae reservatae.
Sic me Deus adiuvet et haec sancta Dei Evangelia, quae manu mea tango.
The oath in English :
I, N.N., promise and swear that, unless I should receive a special faculty given expressly by the newly-elected Pontiff or by his successors, I will observe absolute and perpetual secrecy with all who are not part of the College of Cardinal electors concerning all matters directly or indirectly related to the ballots cast and their scrutiny for the election of the Supreme Pontiff.
I likewise promise and swear to refrain from using any audio or video equipment capable of recording anything which takes place during the period of the election within Vatican City, and in particular anything which in any way, directly or indirectly, is related to the process of the election itself.
I declare that I take this oath fully aware that an infraction thereof will incur the penalty of automatic (‘latae sententiae’) excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.
So help me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand.
6. After all the Cardinal-electors and the personnel locked inside the Conclave had taken their oath, the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations (Monsignor Guido Marini) will stand at the door of the Sistine Chapel, and all the people not sealed in the Conclave are asked to leave, with the traditional pronouncement, “extra omnes” that means “All/Everybody else, out!”
7. The Master of the Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, Monsignor Marini will stay behind for a while, while the second meditation is delivered by the ecclesiastic chosen to do so (Cardinal Prosper Grech, Cardinal non-elector from Malta) to the Cardinal-electors.
After the second meditation is completed, both the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations and the ecclesiastic will leave the Sistine Chapel, and the Conclave will officially begin, and the Sistine Chapel closed off to all except the Cardinal-electors and those sealed with them during the duration of the Conclave.
Continue to Part II here : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2013/03/09/my-guide-to-the-papal-conclave-part-ii-from-the-beginning-to-the-election-of-the-new-pope/