Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Cardinals begin pre-conclave talks

Swiss guards salute as cardinals arrive at the Vatican (AP)
Swiss guards salute as cardinals arrive at the Vatican (AP)

Cardinals from around the world have gathered at the Vatican for their first round of meetings before the conclave to elect the next pope, amid scandals in the Vatican and outside, and the continued reverberations of Benedict XVI's decision to retire.

Cardinals were treated like rock stars as they entered the Vatican, with television crews swarming around the red-capped churchmen and their handlers pushing their way through the crowds.

The main item on the agenda is to set the date for the conclave and set in place procedures to prepare for it, including closing the Sistine Chapel to visitors and getting the Vatican hotel cleared out and de-bugged, lest anyone try to listen in on the secret conversations of the cardinals.

Meanwhile even before Cardinals met, the family-owned Gammarelli tailor shop that has dressed popes for two centuries was ready.

It displayed three sets of white vestments - small, medium and large - to be sent to the Vatican for the new pope.

A white silk "zucchetto," or skullcap, lay on a bed of red cloth in the window, as did a white sash with golden fringes and a pair of red leather shoes.

Gammarelli, tucked behind the Pantheon in central Rome, has served scores of cardinals and popes since 1798. Pope Pius XII was an exception: he used his family tailor.

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