Sistine Chapel Closes as Vatican Prepares for Conclave

The Sistine Chapel was closed to visitors as the Vatican's leaders prepare the famous chapel for the conclave, where cardinals from around the world will work to select a new pope.

Officials at the Vatican revealed that they are awaiting the arrival of five more cardinals before they would be able to begin the election process.

The chapel was closed at 1 p.m. on Tuesday in anticipation for the conclave to begin. Preparation of the chapel includes putting in a false floor where the cardinals with gather and also installing the stove where the secret ballots will be burned.

More than 100 cardinals attended the second day of preparatory meetings in order to organize the conclave as well as get to know one another ahead of the selection.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said he expected to be in the conclave in the coming days and that the reasons for the late arrivals of some cardinals were due to prior commitments.

Local reports indicate that for the second day of pre-conclave meetings, several of the cardinals asked for information about the management of the Vatican bureaucracy. They also asked about the series of allegations of corruption and cronyism in the Holy See's governance.

The official announcement from the Vatican revealed that the 85-year-old pontiff felt he was no longer able to carry out his duties as head of the Catholic Church due to his deteriorating health.

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," Pope Benedict XVI statement explained.

The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who left his post in 1415 as part of a deal that went to end the Great Western Schism concerning competing papal prospects.