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COVID-19 3.11.2013

Smokes, bells ... tweets? Find out ways to find out "Habemus Papam"

  • English

    Though the Vatican has become increasingly savvy with more modern forms of communication, it's still sticking with more primitive methods -- swirling smoke and tolling bells -- to announce whether a new pope has been elected.

    In a similar vein, the Vatican press hall will not immediately issue an official bulletin, email alert, SMS or tweet to tell the 5,000 accredited journalists and other observers whether "Habemus papam."

    Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman and head of the press office, said he would prefer people "live the moment" and try to figure out on their own what color the smoke is "rather than have a communique from the press hall."

    "Therefore, I won't be spending time sending SMSs at that moment; I believe we should be living it," he said to a round of applause from journalists during a news briefing March 9.

    It was a surprising response from media whose 24/7 schedules and digital demands have long clashed with the Vatican, which still uses faxes, conducts almost all news conferences in Italian and most often closes shop between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

    When to see the smoke - Expected "Smoke Schedule"

    March 12th (Tuesday)

    • 7:00 p.m. in Rome/1:00 p.m. CDT - But only if the cardinal electors decide to cast a vote the first day of the conclave


    March 13th (Wednesday), 14th (Thursday), and 15th (Friday)

    • 12:00 p.m. in Rome/6:00 a.m. CDT
    • 7:00 p.m. in Rome/1:00 p.m. CDT


    If a pope is elected on the first ballot of the MORNING, the white smoke would billow forth between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. in Rome (4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. CDT).

    If the pope is elected on the first ballot of the AFTERNOON, the white smoke would be seen between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. (11:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. CDT).


    How to find out the news online

    St. Peter's Square Webcam -
    Vatican television will be broadcasting the "fumate" (smoke) live with a camera positioned about 10 yards away from the chapel chimney, giving people a shot that's "right in front of your nose."

    Pope Alarm -
    "When the smoke goes up, you'll know what's going down". Sign up and be notified as soon as the smoke turns white!

    "On-the-Roof" coverage on Twitter



    Source: Based on CNS article, "In digital age, Vatican sticks with smoke, bells to announce results"

    Photo credit: CNS photo/Paul Haring - March 9, 2013

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