(BBC) - The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church are gathering to elect a new pope. At
some point, white smoke billowing from the Sistine Chapel will show that a
decision has been made. But what goes on behind the closed doors before the
smoke appears? Here are 10 lesser-known facts about the conclave.
1. It's a lock-in. Conclave comes from the Latin "cum-clave"
meaning literally "with key" - the cardinal-electors will be locked in the
Sistine Chapel each day until Benedict XVI's successor is chosen.
2. Spying is tricky. During the conclave they are allowed no
contact with the outside the world - no papers, no TV, no phones, no Twitter.
3. Portable loos play an essential role. Until 2005, the
cardinals endured Spartan conditions in makeshift "cells" close to the Sistine
4. An "interregnum" is ending. The pontificate used to be known
as a "reign" - hence the period between two popes being called an interregnum