Soon the cardinals will enter the conclave and begin casting their votes for the new pope.
What's going through their minds as they do this? How do they actually go through the process of deciding, on any particular ballot, who to vote for?
Why is the first ballot so important? What patterns does history teach us? And is there any way we can help them?
Here are 9 things you need to know.
1. Why is the first ballot significant?
It is the first time that the cardinals get the "lay of the land" in a concrete way.
Up to this point, they have had discussions among themselves about who would be a good pope, and they have done some informal nose counting to get a sense of how...READ MORE