Category: World / March 8, 2013 3:24 PM EST
Roman Catholic cardinals met on Friday (March 8) evening as the Vatican announced that the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict would begin on Tuesday March 12.
A total of 115 elector-cardinals, all aged under 80, are expected to take part in the elaborate ritual, which will continue until one man receives at least a two-thirds majority, or 77 votes in the form of a secret ballot.
The cardinals are likely to hold just one ballot on the first day and up to four ballots each day thereafter. Benedict was elected in barely 24 hours in 2005. His predecessor, John Paul II, became pope after eight rounds of voting spread over three days in the 1978 conclave.
The cardinals have made clear they want another quick conclave this time so they can make Easter celebrations - the most important event in the Roman Catholic calendar.
Cardinals were in the past locked into areas around the Sistine Chapel, famed for its Michelangelo frescoes, and not allowed out until they had chosen a new leader.
But the rules changed before the 2005 conclave they now get to reside in a comfortable Vatican hotel while they are not voting in the chapel itself.