Rite, Ritual, and Tradition – Knock Three Times
Secret ballots. Black and white smoke. Tapping the forehead of the dead pope with a hammer three times. There are many elaborate rites and traditions involved when electing a new pope, some dating from the Middle Ages, others as modern as sweeping the Vatican buildings for electronic listening devices.
Vote Or Starve
Back in the 13th century it took almost three years to install a new pope. After the death of Pope Clement IV, who died in 1268, church officials became involved in a bitter political struggle and many refused to vote. Finally, in effort to break the stalemate, the cardinals were fed only bread and water. The roof of the building they were staying in was removed. The desperate measures worked, because a new pope was soon elected.