After one inconclusive vote, 115 cardinal electors began a second round of voting on Wednesday to choose a new pope to lead the Catholic Church's 1.2 billion followers.
Following a morning prayer service, the 115 scarlet-clad cardinals returned to the Sistine Chapel for a second day of voting to elect a new pope after Benedict XVI's surprise resignation in February.
The cardinals will hold as many as two votes in the morning, and two in the afternoon.
Until they choose a new pontiff, the cardinals' only communication with the outside world will be through smoke from the chimney - black when voting sessions end with an inconclusive result and white when a new pope is elected.
The new pope must receive a two-thirds majority, or 77 votes, necessary to become the 266th pontiff.
Catholic pilgrims and tourists began arriving at the historic St. Peter's Square in Vatican City early Wednesday morning, in the hope of seeing white smoke emerge from the Chapel's chimney after Tuesday's first round of voting proved inconclusive.
A total of 115 cardinals from 48 countries - all under the age of 80 – are taking part in the ancient ritual of selecting the next leader.
Of the electors, 60 are European, 19 from Latin America, 11 from Africa, 10 from Asia and one from Oceania.
Benedict XVI, who abdicated last month, was elected in less than 24 hours in 2005. However, his predecessor, John Paul II, was chosen after three days. The average length of the last nine conclaves was just over three days.
No clear frontrunner has emerged since Benedict announced that he intended to step down and withdrew to the papal summer residence outside Rome.
jlw/ipj (Reuters, AFP, AP)
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