VATICAN CITY (CBSNewYork/AP) — There was no pope selected Tuesday during the first day of the Papal conclave.
Black smoke poured from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, signaling that the 115 cardinals had failed to elect a new pope on their first try.
“This is the way that it goes, and we knew that this is the way it would go from the very beginning,” said Vatican expert the Rev. Robert Dodaro.
PHOTOS: Papal Conclave Day One
To veteran Vatican watchers, an inconclusive first vote was no surprise, CBS 2’s Maurice DuBois reported from Vatican City. But there was a small sliver of hope that white smoke would billow from the chimney, signaling consensus on a new pope, until the news was official.
It was a day of majestic ceremony and magnificent choreography. The cardinals gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica to pray for wisdom in selecting a new Holy Father, while the faithful prayed for them.
“I prayed that they make the right decision, because I feel like there needs to be some big changes, personally,” said tourist Debbie King.
“When I walked into the piazza into the piazza, there’s nothing but a chill came over me,” added visitor Michael King. “I had goose bumps on top of goose bumps.”
The Rev. Thomas Rosica was among the witnesses who were the last to leave the chapel.
“The chanting started and the Litany of Saints – it was the strangest sensation I don’t usually get that often – chills going up and down my back, you know, and looking at the Wall of Redemption, and Michelangelo, and the artwork, seeing pass before me the leaders of a world religion from any corner of the world,” Rosica said.
But the moment the black smoke started wafting from the chimney, the faithful in a rainy St. Peter’s Square understood that history would have to wait at least another day.
“We were very excited that we got to see the smoke at all,” said Texas resident Randy Stanley.
The cardinals held the first day of the conclave deeply divided over the problems of the Church and who best among them could fix them following the stunning resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
The Vatican made clear it didn’t expect a winner on the first ballot.
The cardinals returned to the Vatican’s Santa Marta hotel for the night and will return to the Apostolic Palace for Mass Wednesday morning and a new round of voting.
Four votes are scheduled to be taken on Wednesday — two in the morning and two in the afternoon. The whole world will be watching for white smoke, the indicator that a new pope has been elected.
Earlier, the heavy wooden door to the Sistine Chapel was closed and locked, signaling the start of the conclave. Monsignor Guido Marini, master of liturgical ceremonies, closed the double doors after shouting “Extra omnes,” Latin for “all out,” telling everyone but those taking part in the conclave to leave the frescoed hall. He then locked it.
Led by prelates holding a crucifix and candles, the scarlet-robed cardinals chanted the Litany of Saints — the hypnotic Gregorian chant imploring the intercession of the saints to help them choose the next pope — before taking their places in the chapel frescoed by Michelangelo with scenes of “Creation” and “The Last Judgment.”
As two Swiss Guards stood at attention outside the heavy wooden doors, the cardinals chanted their oath of secrecy, led by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the presiding cardinal. One by one each then came to the center of the chapel and placed his hand on the Gospel to “promise, pledge and swear” to keep the oath.
Earlier Tuesday, cardinals heard a final appeal for unity as they celebrated Mass before sequestering themselves in the Sistine Chapel.
A few hundred people braved thunderstorms and pouring rain to watch the Mass on giant TV screens in St. Peter’s Square.
During his homily, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, called for unity within the Church, a not-so-veiled appeal to the cardinal electors to put their differences aside for the good of the Church and the next pope.
“Each of us is therefore called to cooperate with the Successor of Peter, the visible foundation of such an ecclesial unity,” Sodano said.
He was interrupted by applause from the pews — not so much from the cardinals — when he referred to the “beloved and venerated” Benedict XVI and his “brilliant” pontificate.
Benedict’s surprise resignation — the first in 600 years by a pope — has thrown the Church into turmoil and exposed the deep divisions among cardinals who are grappling with whether they need a manager who can clean up the Vatican’s dysfunctional bureaucracy or a pastor who can inspire Catholics at a time of waning faith.
“Let us pray for the cardinals who are to elect the Roman pontiff,” read one of the Offertory prayers during the Mass. “May the Lord fill them with his Holy Spirit with understanding and good counsel, wisdom and discernment.”
In his final radio address before being sequestered, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Tuesday said a certain calm had taken hold over him, as if “this gentle Roman rain is a sign of the grace of the Holy Spirit coming upon us.”
He said he at least felt more settled about the task at hand.
“And there’s a sense of resignation and conformity with God’s plan. It’s magnificent,” he said during his regular radio show on “The Catholic Channel” on SiriusXM.
“It’s almost a microcosm of life itself, you know how you try to make the right decisions in conformity with God’s holy will. And I think that’s what’s happening now. I just hope I see you soon.”
While few people expected a pontiff to be elected on the first ballot, the Vatican was ready: In the Room of Tears off the Sistine Chapel, where the pope goes immediately after his election, three sizes of white cassocks hung from a clothes rack.
Underneath, seven white shoe boxes were piled, presumably containing the various sizes of the red leather shoes that popes traditionally wear. The room gets its name from the weight of the job thrust upon the new pontiff.
The papal tailor Gammarelli delivered the clothes on Monday to ensure that the newly elected pope could change immediately into papal white as soon as he accepts the election.
With the words “Habemus Papam” or “We have a pope” the pontiff then appears on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to greet the crowd for the first time.
The conclave took place amid more upheaval and uncertainty than the church has seen in decades: There’s no front-runner, no indication how long voting will last and no sense that a single man has what it takes to be pope.
The buzz swirled around Angelo Cardinal Scola, an Italian seen as favored by cardinals hoping to shake up the powerful Vatican bureaucracy, and Brazilian Odilo Cardinal Scherer, a favorite of Vatican-based insiders intent on preserving the status quo.
Other names included Dolan and Canadian Marc Cardinal Ouellet, who heads the Vatican’s powerful office for bishops.
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