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Smoke Signals: Electing a New Pope

white smoke

Rite, Ritual, and Tradition – Knock Three Times

Secret ballots. Black and white smoke. Tapping the forehead of the dead pope with a hammer three times. There are many elaborate rites and traditions involved when electing a new pope, some dating from the Middle Ages, others as modern as sweeping the Vatican buildings for electronic listening devices.

Vote Or Starve

Back in the 13th century it took almost three years to install a new pope. After the death of Pope Clement IV, who died in 1268, church officials became involved in a bitter political struggle and many refused to vote. Finally, in effort to break the stalemate, the cardinals were fed only bread and water. The roof of the building they were staying in was removed. The desperate measures worked, because a new pope was soon elected.


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People in Threes Going Up in Smoke . . .

I have published some works that should be accounted for/cited here, in my opinion.  See: Lee B. Croft, “People in Threes Going Up in Smoke and other Triplicities ” THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN REVIEW, Vol. 59, No. 2 (2005), pp. 29-49 and online through a password at ROCKY MOUNTAIN E-REVIEW at  Also is the older: Lee B. Croft, “Triplicity and Textual Iconicity: Russian Literature through a triangular Prism” in SYNTACTIC ICONICITY AND LINGUISTIC FREEZES: THE HUMAN DIMENSION  (Marge E. Landsberg, ed.) Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin/NY, 1995, pp. 249-265…as well as many talks.

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