How do they choose who will be Pope?

There have been an endless number of Popes through Rome’s history, 266 to be exact. Some reigned for long, some only a short time, with more famous than others, or wiser than most, but how were these Popes chosen? What lead them to this iconic role?

What is the Pope in charge of?

The Papacy refers to the organisation of both the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope is known as the Bishop of Rome, who is the official leader of the entire Catholic Church. They are the head of the Vatican city, which is a separate state from Rome. The word ‘Pope’ is derived from the Greek word ‘pappas’, meaning father-translating to the Pope being the father of all.

How they are Chosen

After the previous Pope has either resigned or died, the responsibilities of the everyday tasks will fall to the College of Cardinals. These are a group of Vatican officials and bishops who will discuss not just the immediate issues, but will prepare for the conclave, the election of the next pope, by voting the next Pope from only this group of cardinals. Each cardinal will vote anonymously until one member received two-thirds of the vote. The dean of the College of Cardinals will then formally ask the cardinal if they will accept the role. If they accept, they will choose their papal name, and present him dressed in papal vestments out on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. The ballots of the voting will be burned with chemicals to produce white smoke, this signals to the city at the end of the election and the beginning of a new pope.

How to see the current Pope Today

Nowadays, seeing the Pope in real life is on a lot of traveller’s bucket lists, regardless of their religion. Vatican City is the home to the current pope, Pope Francis, who has general audiences with the public depending on his schedule. If you are travelling at the right time join the large crowd of locals and tourists who cheer for the pope has, he either waves or says a traditional pray. Visiting during religious holidays gives you an even better experience such as Christmas Eve’s prays at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Join our Extended Vatican Museums & Gardens Tour today!

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