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(NECN/AP) - The Sistine Chapel closed to visitors on Tuesday and construction work got under way to prepare it for the conclave, where cardinals from around the world will gather to elect the new pope after Benedict XVI's resignation last month.
The Vatican said that it was waiting for five more cardinals to arrive before setting the date for the election.
Michelangelo's frescoed masterpiece closed at 1 p.m. to visitors, one of the first visible signs that the election was nearing. Construction work involves installing a false floor to cover the anti-bugging devices and even it out, as well as installing the stove where the ballots will be burned.
A total of 110 of the 115 voting-age cardinals attended the second day of preparatory meetings Tuesday to organize the conclave, discuss the problems of the church and get to know one another, the Vatican said.
Those still making their way to Rome included: Egyptian Patriarch Antonios Naguib, and Cardinals Karl Lehmann of Germany, Jean-Baptiste Pham of Vietnam, Kazimierz Nycz of Poland and John Tong Hon of Hong Kong, the Vatican said.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said they were expected in the coming days and that there was no concern about the delay; some had important meetings of bishops to attend to, he noted.
We heard from Cardinal Sean O'Malley from Boston Tuesday morning, in advance of the papal conclave.
The Roman Catholics cardinals have been meeting behind closed doors since Monday and will continue their meetings Tuesday.
Of course, the big question everyone wanted to know is when will they set a date to begin the process of choosing the next pope; 115 cardinals are eligible to take part in the vote but a few still haven't arrived in Rome.
They hope to select the new pope by March 17, which is the Sunday before Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week.