Saturday 20 January 2018

Q Choosing a name

Every time a new pontiff is chosen in a conclave, a senior cardinal goes up to him and asks: "And by what name do want to be called?" The question is popped immediately, while all electors are still locked in the Sistine chapel. So the winner had better have done his homework and have already picked a name.

Q Papal digs

The new Pope can't move into the papal apartment just yet. He will remain with the cardinals at the Vatican's Santa Marta hotel, an impersonal modern hotel on the edge of the Vatican gardens. The new Pope is expected to stay there for a few weeks until the papal apartment can be renovated.

Q Twitter

The Pope's Twitter account, whose profile was changed to read "Sede Vacante" when Benedict stepped down, now has been switched back to "Pontifex." No tweets yet.

Q Dressed up

The Pope's new clothes were ready before he was. The family-owned Gammarelli tailor shop, which has dressed popes for two centuries, had three sets of vestments – in small, medium and large – prepared for the naming of the new pontiff.

Q Best seat in house

In the absence of a pope, a seagull stole the show at the papal conclave. Smoke watching became bird watching in St Peter's Square after a gull spent several minutes perched atop the chimney that belches out smoke from the Sistine Chapel to signal whether or not a pope has been elected. The bird offered welcome comic relief. Dublin tourist Harry Sheeran said it was "nearer to heaven than we are".

Q Quick decision

It was a fairly quick decision. In centuries past, conclaves dragged on for weeks and months, sometimes years. During a 13th-Century conclave that stretched for weeks, a leading candidate died.

Q Who voted for me?

One thing is certain – the new Pope will never be sure who voted for him. Cardinals used to sign their names to ballots, but stopped doing so "when people used to fear the most serious reprisals for their choices", says Michael Bruter, of the London School of Economics.

Irish Independent

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