Timetable for start of papal conclave on Tuesday

VATICAN CITY Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:39am EDT

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Roman Catholic cardinals will start a conclave on Tuesday to elect a successor to Pope Benedict, who abdicated last month.

Here is an approximate schedule of events for Tuesday. All times are local. Rome is six hours ahead of eastern time in the United States and one hour ahead of GMT.

7 a.m. - The 115 Cardinals under 80 who will vote in the conclave were due to start leaving their Rome residences and begin moving into the Santa Martha hotel inside the Vatican. They will live there for the duration of the conclave. They will vote in the Sistine Chapel and be escorted between the two venues inside the Vatican walls so they are not disturbed during the election and have no contact with the outside world.

10 a.m. - All cardinals, including those over 80 who will not vote in the conclave, celebrate Mass in St Peter's Basilica to pray for the election of the new pope. The Mass is called "Pro Eligendo Romano Pontefice" ("For the Election of the Roman Pontiff") and is open to the public. The Mass will be said by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals. Sodano is over 80 so he will not enter the conclave on Tuesday afternoon.

12:00 p.m. - After the Mass, which is expected to last about two hours, the cardinals return to the hotel, where they can still have contact with the outside world because the conclave has not yet begun.

3:45 p.m. - The cardinal electors leave the hotel and head to the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, where they gather for prayer in the Pauline Chapel.

4:30 p.m. - The cardinal electors move in a procession, while singing and praying, from the Pauline Chapel to the Sistine Chapel.

4:45 p.m. - All those not having anything to do with the conclave leave the Sistine Chapel when the master of ceremonies intones "Extra Omnes" (all out) and the great doors of the frescoed chapel are shut.

The conclave officially starts.

5:00 p.m. - After prayers, the cardinals may decide to hold a first vote.

7 p.m. - 8 p.m. - If they have voted, the ballots are burned in one stove and flares are burned in an electronic stove to produce the correct color. The flues of the two stoves converge into one that emerges from the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

White smoke means a pope has been elected and black smoke means the vote is inconclusive.

If the cardinals take a first vote on Tuesday, it is expected to be inconclusive because there is no frontrunner, meaning black smoke will emerge.

7:30 p.m. - If no pope has been elected, the cardinals return to their residence.

8:00 p.m. - The cardinals dine together in the residence.

From Wednesday, the cardinals will vote as many as four times a day, twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon, until they have elected a new leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

If no one has been elected by Friday, the cardinals will hold a day of prayer and reflection on Saturday before resuming the voting.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Pravin Char)

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