First steps on becoming a pope

Pope Francis

The pomp surrounding his selection was just the beginning of an exceptionally busy few days for Pope Francis. A look at the first night and what comes after.


From the moment of uttering "I accept'' in Latin, in front of his fellow cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, the job is his, and it starts instantly.

According to tradition, his first act is declaring his choice of name as the Roman Catholic church's 266th pontiff. That done, he's whisked off to the Room of Tears, just beyond the chapel to be dressed in papal white.

Since Monday, the day before the conclave began, three white robes in small, medium and large to cover all the bases had been hanging on a clothes rack in the room. Seven pairs of red shoes waited in white boxes to be tried on for size by the new pontiff.

Per tradition, outfitted in papal garb, the new pontiff heads back to the Sistine Chapel, where the other cardinals pledge obedience to the man they chose to lead the church.


Just before Benedict XVI left the papacy last month, to begin the first papal retirement in 600 years, he added another step in the ritual before a cardinal steps out onto the central loggia, or balcony, of St. Peter's Basilica to announce the name of the new pope. The newly elected pontiff was to pause to pray in solitude in the Pauline Chapel, another magnificent chapel decorated by Michelangelo and smaller than the nearby Sistine Chapel.


Next up is greeting crowds in St. Peter's Square.

"Brothers and sisters, good evening,'' Francis said to wild cheers in his first public remarks as pontiff. "You know that the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth. Thank you for the welcome.''

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