Preparations for the Conclave are underway in the Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel plays a key role in electing a new pope

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The tradition of voting for the new pontiff in the Sistine Chapel dates back to the Renaissance, but the location of the voting didn’t become a fixed feature of the conclaves until the 19th century — and only with John Paul II’s rules did the Sistine Chapel become the official theater of papal elections.

Cardinal Mahony knows the new Pope

The retired archbishop of Los Angeles even has a cappuccino with him almost every day. But he’s not giving any names — and no one else may know what will happen in this week’s conclave either.