Last night I watched some of the coverage of the papal conclave in Rome. I wonder how long until we see the white smoke coming out of the Sistine Chapel chimney? It's exciting, and there are a couple of Venice connections that I thought I'd share.
The Papal Conclave of 1799-1800 was held in Venice (and that was the last time that it wasn't held in Rome). At that time, Rome was occupied by Napoleon who had given Venice to the Austrians; they allowed for the Papal Conclave to be held in the church and monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore.
In my post about that church, I wrote about the kind monk who allowed me to go upstairs to the chapel where the conclave was held. I wanted to visit this chapel not because of the historic conclave but to see the Carpaccio painting of St. George and the Dragon over the altar. It was interesting to see that the chapel still commemorates the conclave with the names of the cardinals on the tables.
The Venetian Papal Conclave was a long one - 105 days, from November 30 1799 until March 14, 1880 when Pope Pius VII was elected. A charming little detail - because all the papal treasures were in Rome, they had to make a papal tiara in Venice from papier-mâché. Venetian noblewomen donated jewels to decorate this make-shift crown for the new Pope, and a few subsequent popes continued to wear this tiara because it was light-weight and comfortable. This Venetian-made tiara is now in the Vatican museum.
A view of San Giorgio Maggiore~
And another Venice connection - one of the leading candidates to become the new Pope is Cardinal Angelo Scola, who was the Patriarch of Venice from 2002-2011 (he left Venice in 2011 when he became the Archbishop of Milan). I actually attended Mass with him a few times in Basilica di San Marco when he was the Patriarch. Oddsmakers have him as the front-runner, though some people think it's time for the Church to shake things up with a younger and/or non-European pope. But it has been 35 years since the last Italian pope - perhaps that's the direction they'll go?
A 2009 photo of Angelo Scola celebrating Mass in the cathedral on Torcello~