Pope Benedict XVI become the first pope in 600 years to retire on Thursday, and now the cardinals at the Vatican are tasked with the difficult job of electing his successor. Cardinals who have assembled from around the world in Rome will begin planning the closed-door conclave, but as of yet, there are no clear front-runners for the next pope.
The Vatican is aiming to hold an election by mid-March, so a new pope will be installed before Palm Sunday, which takes plan on March 24. The hope is that the new pope will be able to lead Holy Week services before Easter, which takes place one week later.
These 115 cardinal electors will hold their first meeting on Friday, but will likely not make a decision until next week. After they've decided, they'll enter the Sistine Chapel for voting. Now, they're in the process of thinking through potential successors to Benedict, though there are no clear favorites or official candidates for the position.
Some of the most closely watched figures are Peter Turkson from Ghana, who would be the first black pope ever, Italy's Angelo Scola, Canada's Marc Ouellet, and Timothy Dolan of the U.S.
Regardless of who gets nominated, Benedict urged his cardinals to work together in harmony to select the next pope. He urged them to work "like an orchestra" to reach "agreement and harmony." He has also promised "unconditional reverence and obedience" to the next pope.
Follow along as PolicyMic brings you live coverage of the pope's last day here.