Vatican City, 12 March 2013 (VIS) – The 115 cardinals who will elect the Pope entered the Pauline Chapel at 4:15pm. There Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the assembly, making the sign of the Cross, pronounced: “May the Lord, who guides our hearts in the love and patience of Christ, be with you all.” After this brief prayer, he invited those gathered to begin the procession towards the Sistine Chapel, where the Conclave will be held, saying: “Venerable Brothers, after having celebrated the divine mystery, we now enter into Conclave to elect the Roman Pontiff. The entire Church, joined with us in prayer, constantly calls upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, to elect from among us a worthy Pastor of all of Christ's flock. May the Lord direct our steps along the path of truth, so that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, we may always do that which is pleasing to him.”
Chanting the Litany of Saints, those gathered, preceded by the Cross, moved through the Sala Regia toward the Sistine Chapel. The procession included: non-elector Cardinal Prospero Grech, O.S.A., who will give the meditation; the General Auditor of the Apostolic Camera, Msgr. Giuseppe Sciacca; the Master of Ceremonies of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, Msgr. Guido Marini; two members each of the Colleges of Protonotaries Apostolic de Numero Participantium, of the Prelate Auditors of the Roman Rota, and of the Prelate Clerics of the Apostolic Camera; the secretary of the cardinal who will preside over the the Conclave; the pontifical masters of ceremonies; and members of the Pontifical Sistine Chapel choir.
At the entrance of the Sistine Chapel they were welcomed by: Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State; Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States; Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Prefect of the Prefecture of the Papal Household; religious who supervise the pontifical sacristy; religious charged with hearing confessions; Colonel Daniel Rudolf Anrig, commander of the Swiss Guard; and authorized auxiliary personnel. Members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard guarded the Chapel's doors.
Each of the cardinals took their cherry-wood seats, which are arranged in the order of hierarchical precedence: first those of the Cardinal-bishops, then the Cardinal-priests, and finally the Cardinal-deacons. Together they chanted the “Veni Creator Spiritus”. On concluding, Cardinal Re invited them to take the oath of secrecy, pronouncing in Latin the following common form in front of all present, the others reading along with him:
“We, the Cardinal electors present in this election of the Supreme Pontiff promise, pledge and swear, as individuals and as a group, to observe faithfully and scrupulously the prescriptions contained in the Apostolic Constitution of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, 'Universi Dominici Gregis', published on 22 February 1996. We likewise promise, pledge and swear that whichever of us by divine disposition is elected Roman Pontiff will commit himself faithfully to carrying out the 'munus Petrinum' of Pastor of the Universal Church and will not fail to affirm and defend strenuously the spiritual and temporal rights and the liberty of the Holy See. In a particular way, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, clerical or lay, secrecy regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting; we promise and swear not to break this secret in any way, either during or after the election of the new Pontiff, unless explicit authorization is granted by the same Pontiff; and never to lend support or favour to any interference, opposition or any other form of intervention, whereby secular authorities of whatever order and degree or any group of people or individuals might wish to intervene in the election of the Roman Pontiff.”
Each Cardinal elector then, still following the hierarchical order of precedence, individually swore this shorter form of the oath, again in Latin, placing their right hand on the Book of Gospels opened in the centre of the Sistine Chapel:
“And I, [first name] Cardinal [last name], do so promise, pledge and swear. So help me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand.”
When Cardinal James Michael Harvey, the last of the Cardinal electors to take the oath, finished, the Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini spoke the phrase “Extra omnes” and all those not directly participating in the Conclave left the Sistine Chapel. The doors of the Chapel were shut at 5:35pm.
Along with the Cardinal electors within the Sistine Chapel remain the Master of Ceremonies and Cardinal Prosper Grech, O.S.A., who will give the meditation concerning the grave duty incumbent on them and thus on the need to act with right intention for the good of the Universal Church prescribed in No. 52 of the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis”.
After that exhortation, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re will propose to the electors to begin with, if they so desire, the first ballot of the Conclave, which is optional in the first session.