MANILA, Philippines – White smoke emerged from Vatican City on Thursday morning, March 14 (Philippine time), ending a two-day conclave to elect the next pope.
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The successor of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is expected to address the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics in an hour or two. The 266th pope in the Catholic Church’s 2,000-year history — his identity is still a secret — was due to emerge from the balcony of the basilica.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square cheered and the bells of St Peter’s Basilica rang out after the 115 cardinals meeting in a Vatican conclave signalled their momentous decision.
The crowd chanted “Habemus Papam!” (“We Have a Pope!”) as they waited, waving flags from around the world.
Cardinals have been locked up behind the Vatican walls and cut off from the outside world since Tuesday, March 12, meeting in a sublime Renaissance chapel swept for recording devices and installed with scramblers to prevent any communication.
The smoke from the chimney was produced by burning the ballots and setting off smoke flares in two stoves specially installed in a corner of the chapel.
The decision came after 5 votes – longer than for Benedict’s succession to late pope John Paul II in 2005 which was decided in just 4 votes.
Watch scenes from the Vatican City through the livestream below.