Sistine Chapel Readied for Conclave

Chimney installed on the Sistine Chapel on Saturday. (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

It’s a typical renovation project: new chimney, new stoves, new floor. Except this makeover happened at the Sistine Chapel this week in advance of the papal conclave, the group of cardinals that will gather there to elect a new pope starting Tuesday. Because the cardinals are sworn to secrecy, workers swept the brand-new floor to check for bugging devices, and the group’s only communication with the outside world until a new pope is chosen will be those stoves and that chimney. After each vote, ballots will be burned in one stove and smoke sent through the chimney from the other—black if a decision hasn’t been made, white if there’s a new pontiff.