As you may have heard, the Vatican has a new pope! The new pope, who took the name Francis I (or Francesco), was picked in the second day of the papal conclave. And, yes, that means that, with the conclave over, the Sistine Chapel is reopening.
Here’s a handy Q&A about the 2013 conclave, the new pope, and the Sistine Chapel reopening!
Why was there a papal conclave, and what happened to Pope Benedict XVI?
Pope Benedict announced back in February that he was going to step down—and yes, that’s as much a break with tradition as you would expect. In fact, he was the first pope to resign since 1415. A big reason appears to be the 85-year-old’s deteriorating health, and his desire to spend more time on reading and research.
After Pope Benedict stepped down on February 28, a conclave had to be called. In a papal conclave, all 115 members of the college of cardinals meet in the Sistine Chapel and elect a new pope. (Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about a papal conclave and how it works!). The conclave took place this week. After only a day and a half, the cardinals elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as the new pope.
Why was Pope Francis I’s election such a big deal?
As an Argentinian, Jorge Mario Bergoglio—who took the name Pope Francis I—is the first Latin American to have been elected pope, and the first non-European in 1,200 years. He’s also the first Jesuit to serve as pope.
Why did he choose the name Francis I?
He chose the name after St. Francis of Assisi, one of Italy’s two patron saints and a saint particularly known for his humility and humanity. That’s a real sign, and not an altogether unexpected one—one of the most striking things about Francis has been his humble demeanor. He’s continued to show that characteristic now as pope. On his first day in the seat, for example, he turned down a special car and security detail that would take him to the Vatican, joining the other cardinals on a bus instead.
Is there some special connection Pope Francis I has to Italy?
The new pope was born to Italian immigrant parents in Buenos Aires. That’s actually not that rare. Italians have been settling in Argentina since the 16th century, and some of the most famous Argentinians in history, including President Juan Domingo Peron, have been of Italian descent.
When is the Sistine Chapel reopening?
We’ve just received confirmation that, after being closed for the papal conclave, the Sistine Chapel reopens on Monday, March 18.
On our once-in-a-lifetime VIP Vatican Key Master’s Tour: Unlock the Sistine Chapel, you get to open up the Sistine Chapel and have the special space all to yourself. Take walks with the KeyMaster before dawn as he opens up the Vatican Museums and enjoy the place to yourself for two full hours.
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