The famous stove where ballots are burned

The famous stove where ballots are burned

  Ballots are burned on the right, chemical canisters burned on the left

I was among the journalists who were given a guided visit to the Sistine Chapel this morning, where workmen were busy finishing the construction on the seating platform. The stove where ballots are burned is the same two-chamber unit that was used in 2005. One chamber burns the ballots, while in the other chemical canisters are loaded to make sure the black smoke (an inconclusive election) is really black, and the white smoke (Habemus Papam) is really white.

Above the stove runs a copper smokestack to the roof of the Sistine, where it joins the exterior smokestack seen by the world.

If history is any guide, despite the high-tech stove, people outside will argue whether the smoke is white or black.

The Vatican spokesman said today that technicians would be testing the stove, but not actually emitting any smoke -- that would cause too much confusion and excitement in St. Peter's Square.

He also said that, in the event of white smoke during the conclave, the big bell of St. Peter's Basilica would begin to toll. For details on how that worked out during the last conclave, see Chapter 1 of my book.

  The smokestack runs to the roof level, then connects to an exterior smokestack

5 comments (Add your own)

1. Ryan Asmussen wrote:
John, such an intriguing shot! Thanks so much for it...

Sat, March 9, 2013 @ 10:48 AM

2. David Vannostran wrote:
This new Catholic appreciates this insight. I am amazed by everything in this world every day.

Sat, March 9, 2013 @ 12:16 PM

3. Paulo Sgarbi wrote:
John, I have been avidly reading your book! Cindy Wooden's remark on the cardinals' advices on how to properly run the stoves ("sounded a lot like men gathered around a barbecue, debating the finer points of cooking with charcoal") is priceless. Thanks for sharing these pictures; I can already picture the room filling up with smoke...

Sat, March 9, 2013 @ 3:14 PM

4. Carolyn wrote:
What a great post! I started your book last night and am enjoying it immensely. Thank you!

Sat, March 9, 2013 @ 5:28 PM

5. Linus wrote:
That is a really long pipe! I wonder how they get it to " draw. " Seems too long too make a good chimeny. Perhaps they have an exhaust fan installed. The stove itself looks like what we used to call a salemander - typically used in shops and garages.


Sun, March 10, 2013 @ 9:23 AM

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