The Church's 75th Conclave will begin Tuesday 12th March.
The news came a little earlier than expected, at 5.30pm Rome time, when the Vatican released the following message:
"The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013. A “pro eligendo Romano Pontifice” Mass [for the election of a Roman Pontiff] will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica that morning. In the afternoon, the cardinals will enter into the Conclave."
The 115 cardinal electors will begin moving into the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence adjacent to St Peter’s basilica on Monday. Their apartments are allocated by drawing lots.
They will be also joined by a group of conclave officials: the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, who acts as secretary for the electoral assembly; the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, with two Masters of Ceremonies and two Religious employed in the Sacristy; and an ecclesiastical Assistant to the Dean of the College of Cardinals.
A number of priests will also be available for hearing confessions, plus two medical doctors for possible emergencies, and an adequate team of domestic staff to prepare and serve meals, and for general housekeeping.
All involved in the conclave are bound to observe total confidentiality about anything they come to know directly or indirectly about the election process.