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In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, cardinals attend a meeting, at the Vatican, Monday, March 4, 2013. Cardinals from around the world have gathered inside the Vatican for their first round of meetings before the conclave to elect the next pope.

, Associated Press - Ap

Conclave nears, Sistine Chapel closed to visitors

  • Associated Press
  • March 5, 2013 - 5:03 AM

VATICAN CITY - The clearest sign yet that a papal election is nearing has arrived, with the Sistine Chapel announcing it is closing to visitors.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Michelangelo's frescoed masterpiece will be sealed to tourists as Vatican workers put it into shape for the conclave: In 2005, the last time the College of Cardinals elected a pope, those preparations included installing a false floor to hide anti-bugging devices and attaching the stove, where the ballots are burned, to the Sistine Chapel's chimney.

Tuesday also brought a second day of pre-conclave meetings with cardinals to organize the election process and get to know one another. With a handful of cardinals still travelling to Rome, no date has yet been set for the start of the conclave.

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