Cardinals dressed in a cappa magna participated in the Mass of the Holy Spirit, celebrated before the beginning of the conclave. After the mass, from a special stand, covered with red damask, set on the Gospel side, De eligendo Pontifice was read; it was the prayer which reminded cardinals of the relevance of the duty resting on them – to elect a new pope.
After the Mass the College of Cardinals gathered in the appointed place where the instructions concerning the election of the new Holy Father were read. After adoration of the Blessed Sacrament there was a procession to the chapel where the conclave was held.
The last Master of Ceremonies, dressed in a mantelletta, carried the papal cross which was flanked by two porters (Magistri Ostiarii a Virga Rubea). After the cross followed cardinals in order of precedence. They were dressed in a cappa magna, and accompanied by the caudatarii, in cassocks and black ferraiolos, by two conclavists: one dressed as a train-bearers, the latter in a black cassock and a ferraiolo in the same colour, and by servants in gala-livery. In the procession participated also cardinals’ familiares and a choir singing Veni Creator Spiritus. The cardinals were followed by prelates fulfilling certain functions during the conclave. The procession was surrounded by a double cordon of the Noble Guard and the Pontifical Swiss Guard.
Having reached the place of the conclave, the Cardinal Dean, standing in front of the altar, said the prayer Deus, qui corda fidelium. Next, the legal regulations of the conclave were read. Subsequently, the cardinals took the oath: they swore by the Gospel, saying: Et Ego N. Cardinalis N. spondeo, voveo, ac iuro, they put their hand on the Gospel, adding: Sic me Deus adiuvet et haec Sancta Dei Evangelia. Subsequently, The Dean of the College told cardinals a few words of encouragement; afterwards, the electors went to their cells. Once, Princes of the Church had lived in cells built of boards in the Apostolic Palace or on the Quirinal Hill, depending on the place where the conclave had been held. The cells, just as today, had been selected randomly. Later on, cardinals were placed in palace rooms divided by temporary walls.
In the meantime, conclavists took an oath, and cardinals changed their robes and received visitors. The last Master of Ceremonies, dressed in a zimarra, walked around the enclosure three times, letting everybody know with a bell that it is the time to close the conclave. At the third time he also called Extra omnes and all non-conclavists left the enclosure. Subsequently, cardinal camerlengo and the three eldest cardinals of every class (bishops, priests and deacons) with the first Master of Ceremonies checked the cells of cardinals and closed the conclave from the inside. At the same time the conclave was closed also from the outside.
All doors and windows were walled or boarded up, except one which was locked with four locks: the Marshal of the Conclave, which title was hereditary and was vested in the family Chigi, had the keys for the two locks on the outside, and the keys for the locks on the inside were in the possession of the first Master of Ceremonies and the cardinal camerlengo. Food and other necessary things were delivered with the aid of a small revolving door (similar to that of the enclosed religious orders). The access to the conclave was guarded by various dignitaries of the court: from patriarchs, archbishops and bishops Assistants at the Papal Throne, apostolic protonotaries, prelates of the Rota and the Signatura to the clerici of the Apostolic Camera.
A day at a conclave began early in the morning when the last Master of Ceremonies walked around the enclosure, calling the cardinals with a bell to prepare themselves to leave. At the third time he also called In Capellam, Domini. During the first day cardinals in the choir dress (in a rochet or a surplice in the case of the religious cardinals, a mozzetta and, till the second half of the XIX century, a crocea) with both their conclavists participated in a Holy Mass celebrated by the Dean of the College in the Pauline Chapel. Receiving Communion, cardinals took off the crocea and received a white stole from a Master of Ceremonies; the cardinals who were ordinated priests put it on the neck in a usual way, whereas the cardinal deacons hung it over the shoulder.
On other days the cardinals celebrated mass alone. Those who were not able to do it participated in the mass celebrated by a papal sacristan, whom served two Masters of Ceremonies, and two conclavists held torches during the Canon of Mass. During the Mass the celebrant, through Masters of Ceremonies, gave pax to the three eldest cardinals of every class who gave pax to their colleagues of the same class. After the Mass all returned to their cells to eat breakfast. Later on, the cardinals went to the Sistine Chapel, already without the rochet, in order to vote. Conclavists holding paper, pen, seal etc. accompanied them.
The floor in the presbytery of the Sistine Chapel was covered with green cloth. A portable altar stood under a purple baldachin. Under the baldachin there was a tapestry depicting the Pentecost. On the altar there was a cross and six candlesticks with candles lit during the mass and the voting. On the Gospel side of the altar papal cross and throne were set; on that throne the elected pope was paid the homage.
Along the walls of the chapel there were places for cardinals: each of them with a violet (for the cardinals nominated by the deceased pope) or green (for cardinals nominated by his predecessor) baldaquin. The throne was decorated with the coat of arms of the cardinal, and in front of each there was a table decorated with cloth in the same colour as the baldaquin. Cardinals sat in the following order: the Cardinal Dean sat on the Gospel side, closest to the altar; next to him, in order of precedence, there were cardinal bishops, cardinal priests and cardinal deacons. The youngest cardinal deacon sat closest to the altar on the Epistle side.
In the middle of the presbytery there were tables covered with cloth with stools for the cardinals who arrived later and for those who, for fear of their neighbours who could peep at their ballot paper, preferred to complete their card there. In front of the altar there was a big table covered with red serge on which there were items necessary for voting.
After the procession entered the chapel the first Master of Ceremonies read the instruction of the closing of the enclosure. Next, bishop sacristan, wearing a cotta and a stole, intoned Veni Creator Spiritus and, after the chant, a prayer was read. Everyone, except the electors, left the chapel and one of the cardinals locked the door with a bolt. After voting the Dean rang a bell and all stood up. One of the cardinals rang a bell near the door and the chapel was opened. After dinner last Master of Ceremonies once again called all cardinals to the chapel, in the same way as it was previously described, and the evening voting began, also preceded by the hymn to the Holy Spirit.
After voting cardinals returned to their cells, took off the crocea and the biretta, and donned a hat. They spent their free time strolling and visiting one another in cells. During the meetings they drank coffee, chocolate or lemonade. Each evening also the eldest cardinal bishop, cardinal priest and cardinal deacon met: on the first day they, among others, swore in the persons, who didn’t take the oath earlier e.g. doctors, bricklayers, confessors etc. The day in a conclave ended with a triple sound of the bell of the last Master of Ceremonies who walked around the enclosure three times; when he was walking around the enclosure for the third time he was calling In cellam, Domini.
Once there were many ways to elect a new pope, but only one has survived to modern times: by scrutinium, or a secret voting. The first of former possibilities was inspiration (per inspirationem), called also acclamation or adoration, when all cardinals, participating in the conclave, unanimously appointed the candidate for the See of St. Peter. The second way was called per compromissum and was used when cardinals could not reach the agreement and none of the candidates had any chance to obtain the required number of votes. Then the electors chose three, five or seven cardinals to whom they entrusted the election of the pope, solemnly vowing to accept their decision. The third and the most frequently used way was per scrutinium, formerly combined with the possibility of accession. This form of voting is the most intricate one and thus divided into three parts: antescrutinium, scrutinium and postscrutinium.
After a short prayer in front of the altar the Pope, accompanied by the first two cardinal deacons, the chamberlain, a sacristan and the Secretary of the Conclave, went to the sacristy where, in the company of two conclavists called earlier, dressed in the full papal choir dress, the look of which depended on the period. The papal stole was put on the dress by the Protodeacon. Having returned to the chapel, the Pope sat on the throne set before the altar, having on both sides the first two cardinal deacons. Then, he was paid the first, non-public, homage. Each cardinal in a crocea with its train spread (later in the simple choir dress) kissed the Pope’s foot and palm; the Pope returned the kiss of peace twice. The cardinal camerlengo, having given reverence to the Pope, presented the Ring of the Fisherman to him. The Pope wore it for a moment and gave it back to the first Master of Ceremonies, who carried it to the person who were to engrave the Pope’s name on it.
After the homage was paid by the first two cardinal deacons, leaving the task of accompanying the Pope to another two cardinals of their class, left the chapel and, preceded by a Master of Ceremonies with the papal cross, went to the balcony of the basilica. The cardinal protodeacon, having the Master of Ceremonies with the cross on one side and the second cardinal on the other, read the formula of the election of the new pope, written on a card which he subsequently threw to the jubilant crowds. Over the years the content of the announcement was altered a little: formerly, to the words we know, the rank of the elected cardinal and his titular church had been added: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: Papam habemus! Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum N., Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae episcopum/presbyterum/diaconum tituli N. Cardinalem N., qui sibi nomen imposuit N.
[English translation by Marek S.]