Cardinals Flock to the Vatican

Thursday, Aug. 24, 1978

111 Cardinals Gather to Select New Pope (AP)

VATICAN CITY — The Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church drew lots for their rooms in their last business meeting [today] to prepare for the secret conclave to elect a successor to Pope Paul VI. One of the Vatican’s leading commentators said the race was wide open and the conclave may be lengthy.

Blessed Pope Gregory X

Blessed Pope Gregory X

Virgilio Levi, assistant editor of the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano, … said that because of a lack of a clear favorite he doubted the conclave would be brief. The initial voting will be used exclusively for a “reciprocal sounding out and clarification.”

History’s longest conclave began in 1268 and took two years and eight months to elect Pope Gregory X. The deadlocked cardinals received added motivation to arrive at their decision when the local villagers locked the cardinals in, reduced their rations to bread and water, and removed the roof above their heads. No such measures are expected to be necessary for the upcoming conclave.

What is your favorite strange but true pope story from Church history?

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