Black smoke poured from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, indicating the cardinals have not yet selected a pope. It didn't come as a surprise to many. All 115 cardinals began the election process inside the Vatican at noon - Eastern Time, and they finished up at 2:45 p.m.
Catholics in the Richmond area are watching this chapter of history unfold with anticipation. That's along with the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world anxiously waiting.
People who attended mass at the Catholic Diocese of Richmond made a point to pray for the papal conclave - saying it could be days until a final vote.
Joan Daniel and about a dozen other people have been praying the Holy Spirit will lead the cardinals to vote for their next leader of the Catholic Church.
"Anticipation and some anxiety are put into it, and it feels very strange to be 'popeless,'" said Daniel.
Pope Benedict XVI resigned last month. Even though the conclave voted on him quickly, Rev. Msgr. Francis Muench, believes the decision this time around could take much longer.
"I would be very surprised if this happens in the next 48 hours, but I'm ready to be surprised," said Rev. Muench.
Rev. Muench just returned from Rome where he heard Benedict's final speech at Saint Peters Square. He hopes the next spiritual leader will guide the Catholic Church, as a whole, in the right direction, despite challenges. Some include sex abuse allegations and claims of corruption.
"Yeah, a lot of talk about that," Rev. Muench added. "Nobody wants to be dismissive about that. It's a part of a larger picture that says how can we truly be representatives of Christ."
"I want to see the next pope be as strong and as true as Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul was," Daniel added. "I say strength, because we need a lot of strength in this world today. There are many things that tug at us that don't always tug the right way."
For that reason, Daniel will continue to pray for guidance and wisdom as the cardinals cast their votes. The next round of voting will begin Wednesday. Results will show from puffs of smoke from the chimney following each ballot.
Cardinals will remain sequestered in the Vatican until they elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.
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