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Seeking a Leader: The 2013 Papal Conclave

As a result of Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation as leader of the Catholic Church the process to select a new Pope began on Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

From within the Sistine Chapel, 115 Cardinals from around the world would conduct a centuries-old voting process called a conclave to choose the next Pope.

For the first time in nearly 600 years the Catholic Church would elect a new leader after a resignation. 

I arrived at the Vatican on the Friday before the conclave to document this historic event.

Over the next four days I turned my lens to the scene of the conclave, the cast of characters who would decide the direction of the church and the faithful who flocked St. Peter’s Square en masse to meet their new leader.

-Lucas Oleniuk - @LucasOleniuk

Vatican_blog_LOW01One of 115 Cardinals would emerge from the conclave as the new Pope.  His image will become synonymous with the Catholic Church for centuries to come.


Vatican_blog_LOW02Preparations inside the Sistine Chapel were underway beneath Michelangelo’s magnificent frescoes.  Sitting on cherry wood chairs the Cardinals will select a leader in a series of secret votes.


Vatican_blog_LOW03The Cardinals will share the results of the conclave vote with a smoke signal sent up through a chimney in the Sistine Chapel.


Vatican_blog_LOW04Rome’s admiration for the Cardinals is widely evident.  Vatican police inspector Maria Antonetta expressed her adoration for Portugal's Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins as he walked through St. Peter's Square en route to the pre-conlave mass.


Vatican_blog_LOW05Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins greets an adoring parishioner at St. Patrick Church in Rome.  The cardinal holds one of the 115 votes that will decide the next Pope and is a candidate himself.


Vatican_blog_LOW06As a leading candidate to become Pope, Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouelett entered the Santa Maria In Traspontina Church in Rome where he presided over a mass on the Sunday before the conclave.


Vatican_blog_LOW07Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins spoke with a young parishioner following mass at St. Patrick's Church in Rome.  The Cardinal played a lead role in the investigation of clerical sexual abuse of children in Ireland.  Many critics of the Catholic Church have praised Collins’ demand for action and reform of the church in dealing with sexual abuse.


Two men who identified themselves as friends stood in front of St. Peter's Basilica while the College of Cardinal's sat in the Conclave to decide the direction of the Catholic Church.  


Priests stood in line at St. Peter's Square to participate in the pre-Conclave mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.


The faithful travelled to St. Peter's Basilica to participate in the pre-conclave mass.



A group of nuns discussed the magnificence of the pre-conlave mass at St. Peter's Basilica.



A Roman demonstrator held a sign reading, "Frencesco I Papa" in front of the media tent outside of St. Peter's Square the evening before the conclave.  He explained that he would like the next Pope to be the namesake of St. Francis of Assisi and rule the church with the poor in mind.  His wish would be fulfilled in the coming days.  



An Italian woman joined the thousands of faithful in front of television monitors inside of St. Peter's square to watch the televised portion of the conclave.



Father Philip's, a Spanish priest living in Rome, stood in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican waiting for results of the conclave.



Barefoot and wet, a man knelt in prayer at St. Peter's Square during conclave to elect the next leader of the Catholic Church.



The faithful assembled in St. Peter's Square react to the black smoke signal from the conclave Wednesday morning.



Japanese nuns in St. Peter's Square react to the black smoke signal from the Conclave.  Their leader has yet to be chosen. 



Anticipating another vote, the crowd of faithful gathered underneath the balcony where a new Pope would soon be presented.



Two Italian women stood in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican waiting for results of the evening session of the conclave.



The crowd of thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square erupted in cheer at the sight of white smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel.



The crowd at the Vatican joined Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the new Pope, in prayer as he stood on the balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square.



Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, walked out onto the balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square after being elected Pope.  His chosen papal name is St. Francis.



The thousands of Catholics gathered in St. Peter’s Square admired the sight of their new leader standing on the balcony of St. Peter’s Square.
















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