Among the more intriguing traditions of a papal election is the little stove installed in the Sistine Chapel to burn the ballots and send out the smoke signals about the results.
But one mystery never really discussed is how 115 voting cardinals locked in a room deal with, ahem, waste of a more mundane nature.
Papal porta-potties, it turns out.
“They are installing chemical toilets inside the Sistine Chapel,” Antonio Paulucci, the director of the Vatican Museums told Italy’s Il Messagero newspaper today.
There are public bathrooms nearby — just one floor down — but the cardinals won’t be able to venture out of the chapel to use them.
The Sistine Chapel is under undergoing a transformation before the vote.
The Raphael Rooms will remain open, but the Borgia Apartments will be closed as will Pope Paul VI’s collection of contemporary church art.
The museum has also closed the doors of the Sistine Chapel to all tourists.
The Sistine Chapel is the museum’s biggest attraction – 5 million visitors a year. Now even pre-paid private tour groups are cancelled or postponed until after the new pope emerges.