All eyes will be peeled on the chimney of the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday as the Roman Catholic cardinals tasked with electing the next pope convene for a second day of the conclave.
The 115 voting eligible church leaders file into the chapel chamber, renowned for its ceiling fresco painted by Renaissance master Michelangelo, at 10:30 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. ET).
They will have four opportunities to vote, twice early in the day and twice later.
A two-thirds majority is required to confirm a new pontiff.White or black smoke?
White smoke could rise about one hour after the first vote, which would signal that the Church has a new pope.
If the first vote does not produce a new pontiff, no smoke will appear from the roof of the Sistine Chapel. The cardinals will then vote again.
If the second vote also produces no result, black smoke will appear.
The smoke signals can get a little complicated.
The smoke comes from two furnaces set up in the Sistine Chapel especially for the vote. One incinerates the ballots used in the vote, which would naturally burn white. The other furnace adds black smoke to signal that no pope has been chosen.Wait for the announcement
If a pope has been elected, the cardinals burn the ballots immediately.
If not, the cardinals hold on to them and proceed to a second round of voting.
They burn the ballots from both rounds together after the second round.
In the past, discerning the color has been difficult at times, as it has appeared gray. But there is a second, unmistakable sign: If the smoke is indeed white, the Vatican church bells ring to celebrate the choice.
The wait for the announcement of a new Church leader should not be too long. The longest Papal conclave in the past 100 years century took just five days -- the one to elect Benedict XVI.
Black smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel Tuesday night, after the cardinals failed to choose a new pope in the first day of their conclave.
Huddled under umbrellas as rain came down, crowds of onlookers watched the chimney and big screens set up in St. Peter's Square.
The secret election got under way earlier in the day, as the heavy wooden doors to the chapel swung closed on the cardinals charged with selecting the next pontiff.
On a day rich with symbolism, the scarlet-clad men entered the Sistine Chapel in solemn procession, chanting prayers.
Led by the conclave's senior cardinal, Giovanni Battista Re, each of the cardinal-electors -- those under age 80 who are eligible to vote -- then swore an oath of secrecy.
A designated official then gave the order, in Latin, to those not authorized to remain, "Extra omnes" -- that is, "Everyone out."In isolation
With those not taking part in the conclave gone, the cardinals will remain locked in isolation until one candidate garners the two-thirds supermajority.
That man will emerge from the process as the new spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
Applause echoed around St. Peter's as Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, offered thanks for the "brilliant pontificate" of Benedict, whose unexpected resignation precipitated the selection of a new pope.
When cardinals elected Benedict in 2005, the white smoke signaling the decision came about six hours after an earlier, inconclusive vote.