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Papal Conclave

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~

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~


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Comments (7)

I'd say you have a vested interest in the outcome of this conclave!

Hi Yvonne, I don't know if a non-Catholic can have a vested interest, but I'm certainly enjoying following the story (it's an Italy fix, for sure!).

I got home from work today just in time to see the black smoke coming from the chimney, so more voting tomorrow...

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, I really enjoyed learning about this wonderful Venice connection. And I love your photo of San Giorgio Maggiore. And that is a wonderful photo of Cardinal Scola. How cool that the monk allowed you to go up the chapel to see where this historic conclave took place. Thank you so much for sharing. It'll be interesting to see how long it will be.

Have a wonderful evening.


I was rooting for Cardinal Scola having been blessed by him at the Salute festival. But I think Papa Francesco will be good.

I have to sadly report that there has been absolutely no progress on the restoration work on Sant' Aponal. (I think you were wondering.)

Kathy, thanks! It didn't take too long for them to make a decision.

Andrew, I was rooting for him too but am glad they decided to make a fresh choice. I like his name - first pope named after St. Francis (among other firsts).

Yvonne, thanks for the update. I'm not a bit surprised!

What an interesting post, Annie! I didn't realize that conclave was once held in Venice.

I'm still in Canada with my family, feeling a bit sorry that I missed conclave. But maybe next time!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 12, 2013 8:54 AM.

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