Factfile: The Papal conclave in facts and figures

A general view of St. Peters Square and the Vatican Credit: John Walton/EMPICS Sport

Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church are gathering in Rome to elect a new pope. Here are some facts about the Papal conclave.

The longest conclave

The longest conclave ran for 33 months, beginning in 1268, residents of Viterbo, north of Rome, tore the roof off the building where the cardinals were staying and restricted their meals to make them hurry up.

Pope Gregory X was elected, and to avoid a repeat, he decreed in 1274 that cardinals would only get one meal a day if the conclave stretched beyond three days, and served bread, water and wine if it went beyond eight.

The shortest conclave

Before 1274 there were times when a pope was elected the same day as the death of his predecessor, after that, however, the church decided to wait at least 10 days before the first vote.

The quickest conclave observing the ten day wait rule was the 1503 election of Julius II, who was elected in just a few hours, according to Vatican historian Ambrogio Piazzoni.

Youngest Pope elected

Pope John XII was just 18 when he was elected in 955.

Oldest Pope elected

The oldest popes were Pope Celestine III (elected in 1191) and Celestine V (elected in 1294) who were both nearly 85.