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THE CONCLAVE AS IT IS AT PRESENT.
The death of a Pope.—Time to elapse before Conclave.—Cardinal Gaysruck's Journey.—The Mode of constructing cells for the Conclave.—Localities in the interior of the Conclave.—Drawing lots for the cells.—Mode of fitting and furnishing the cells.—The cell of a Royal Cardinal.—The Camerlengo.—Mode of living of tho Cardinals.—First day in Conclave.
As soon as ever the breath shall have finally left the body of a dying Pope, the first thing to be done is to advise the Cardinal Camerlingo* of the fact. He has the entire government in his hands during the vacancy of the sec. That dignitary immediately repairs to the chamber in which the dead Pope lies, and, striking the dead body on the forehead thrice with a little hammer, calls him thrice by his name—by his original name, not without a picturesque significance. "Giovanni Mastai!" the Camerlengo Cardinal will call thrice as he strikes on the senseless forehead which bore the tiara with a hammer, and getting no answer will take off from the dead man's finger the "ring of the fisherman," and break it!
* Camerlengo, or Camerlingo, derived from "Camera,"meant originally a chamberlain, and secondarily a treasurer. It is still used in the latter sense in monastic communities.
Nine days are allowed according to the ancient constitutions for the preparations for the Conclave and the arrival of those members of the Sacred College who may be at a distance. In these days the time allowed is sufficient. But it was in many cases evidently insufficient in former times. The present Pope owes his Papacy of more than thirty years to the insufficiency of the time allowed for the arrival of foreign cardinals. Cardinal Gaysruck, the Austrian, was on his way to the Conclave from Yienna, hastening as fast as post-horses could bring him and Austria's "veto" against the very man who was elected, with which he was commissioned. His posthorses did not go quick enough. He arrived too late, and found the man he was sent specially to exclude already elected!
The nine days are little enough, too, for the mere material preparations for the Conclave. In recent times the Conclaves have been always held either at the Quirinal or the Vatican. It is evident that the next must be held at the latter palace; and there the necessary arrangements will have to be made at the death of Pius IX. "To tell you the matter in one word," writes President de Brosses to his correspondent, "they build a town in a house, and a quantity of little houses in vast chambers, from which you may conclude that of all the towns in the world this Conclave town is the stuffiest and the least pleasant to live in."
The first business is for the bricklayer to wall up all doors and windows, leaving at the top of the latter one or two panes of glass to give a little light to the interior. This immense operosity in acting out to the life a comedy, -which at best is but a symbol, and now a symbol from -which the significance has departed, is curiously characteristic of priestly Eome and its ways of being and doing!
The halls in the interior of the Vatican are numerous and large enough for the accommodation of a dozen Conclaves. The apartments, the walls of which are decorated with priceless paintings, are not used for the purpose. The great peristyle over the entrance to St. Peter's forms, as De Brosses remarks, an extremely spacious gallery, where there is room for two ranges of cells, and a corridor in the middle between them. Seventeen cells can be constructed in that gallery alone, and they are some of the most convenient in the Conclave. Each cell is composed of a small chamber in which is the cardinal's bed, another small room by the side of it, and a stair to climb to a sort of garret above the cell, in which space is found for two little rooms for his two conclavists. Constructed thus in different parts of the interior of the palace, of course some of the cells are very much better than others. Their Eminences draw lots for them. Thus, on the occasion described by De Brosses, the French Cardinal Tencin, of whom I spoke in a previous chapter, had the luck to get the cell immediately over the central door of St. Peter's, so that the projection of the balcony in that part gave room for an extra chamber in his cell, which served as a good-sized study. But then, on the other hand, as the President remarks, that cell would be sure to be wrecked and everything in it pillaged when the new Pope should come to give his benediction to the people assembled in the piazza of