(Rome, Italy) After just a few hours of meeting, the first vote for a new Pope resulted in black smoke.
The same result after a second vote this morning.
White smoke would have meant a Pope had been chosen.
The heavy wooden doors to the Sistine Chapel swung closed Tuesday, signaling the start of the secret election, or conclave, in which 115 Roman Catholic cardinals will pick the next pope.
Now all eyes will turn to the chimney installed on the roof of the historic chapel.
From this point on, the only clue the world will have of what is happening inside will be periodic puffs of smoke that follow each round of voting.
Black smoke, no pope. White smoke, success.
On a day rich with symbolism, the scarlet-clad cardinals entered the Sistine Chapel in solemn procession, chanting prayers and watched over by the magnificent paintings of Renaissance artist Michelangelo.
Each of the cardinal-electors — those under age 80 who are eligible to vote — then swore an oath of secrecy, led by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the most senior cardinal in the conclave.
A designated official then gave the order in Latin, “Extra omnes” — that is, “Those who are extra, leave.”
With all those not taking part in the conclave gone, the cardinals will remain locked in total isolation until one candidate can garner two-thirds of their votes.
That man will emerge from the process as the new spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
The cardinals will probably vote Tuesday, but they don’t have to, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Monday.
If they do, it’s likely the first smoke might be seen around 8 p.m. (3 p.m. ET), he said.
Huddled under umbrellas as the rain came down, crowds of curious onlookers watched on big screens set up in St. Peter’s Square until the doors to the Sistine Chapel were shut.
Earlier, the cardinals celebrated a special morning Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, where they prayed for guidance in making a choice that could be crucial to the future direction of a church rocked by scandal in recent years.
Applause echoed around St. Peter’s as Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, offered thanks for the “brilliant pontificate” of Benedict XVI, whose unexpected resignation precipitated the selection of a new pope.
Sodano’s homily focused on a message of love and unity, calling on all to cooperate with the new pontiff in the service of the church.
“My brothers, let us pray that the Lord will grant us a pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart,” he concluded.
Members of the public had waited in long lines Tuesday morning to join the Mass, which was open to all. As the service began, the morning’s brilliant sunshine came to an abrupt end, with the skies letting loose thunder, lightning and a torrential downpour.
Before the service, the cardinal-electors moved into Casa Santa Marta, their residence at the Vatican for the duration of the conclave.
Jamming devices have been put in place to stop them from communicating with the outside world using mobile phones or other electronic means as they make their decision.
Learn more from CNN