Sistine chimney: cast-iron oven, with fumigator

Associated Press
Firefighters, right, place the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, where cardinals will gather to elect the new pope, at the Vatican, Saturday, March 9, 2013. The preliminaries over, Catholic cardinals are ready to get down to the real business of choosing a pope. And even without a front-runner, there are indications they will go into the conclave Tuesday with a good idea of their top picks. The conclave date was set Friday during a vote by the College of Cardinals, who have been meeting all week to discuss the church's problems and priorities, and the qualities the successor to Pope Benedict XVI must possess. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Firefighters have installed the top of the Sistine Chapel chimney that will signal to the world that a new pope has been elected, while construction workers were preparing the chapel interior for the start of the papal conclave Tuesday.

For such an important decision, the chimney is an awfully simple affair: a century-old cast iron stove where ballot papers are burned, with a copper pipe out the top that snakes up the Sistine's frescoed walls, out the window and onto the chapel roof.

After years of confusion about whether the smoke was black (no pope) or white (pope), the Vatican in 2005 installed an auxiliary stove where fumigating cases are lit. The smoke from those cases — black or white — joins the burned ballot smoke out the chimney.

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