Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City wrote to his priests in New York city in an email confirmed by ABC that he believes the conclave to elect a new pope would take until Thursday evening. The email read in part,
"My guess is that we'd have a new Successor of St. Peter by Thursday evening, with a hoped-for inaugural Mass on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, the patron of the Church Universal, a holiday, and Father's Day here in Italy."
St. Peter of course, was the first pope in the Church's history, said to be hand-picked by Jesus to carry on his teachings.
The immediate successor of Benedict XVI is most likely to be a European. Although there was some early speculation that the Church would get its first North American pope in archbishops Sean O'Malley (Boston), Marc Ouelett (Quebec City), or even Dolan himself, odds are pointing to another European pontiff.