A small chimney atop the Sistine Chapel is again the focus of the world's Roman Catholics on Wednesday, as 115 Catholic cardinals hold a second day of deliberations to elect a new pope.
The cardinals are voting on a successor to Pope Benedict, who resigned last month saying he does not have the strength to carry out his papal duties.
The College of Cardinals began deliberation Wednesday after a session of prayer, but so far have not indicated that a decision has been made.
Thousands of onlookers are gathered in St. Peter's Square to await a signal of black or white smoke to indicate whether a pope has been chosen. If the morning's voting does not produce a pope, the chimney will billow with black smoke.
When the cardinals agree on a successor to Benedict, white smoke will rise from the chimney and the bells of St. Peter's Basilica will ring.
A candidate must receive two-thirds of the vote, or 77 ballots, to be chosen to lead the Church. During the initial vote, several cardinals tend to emerge with more votes than others.
The cardinals took an initial vote Tuesday. As expected, the first vote did not produce a decision but may have produced a slate of frontrunners.
The cardinals will remain sequestered behind the Vatican's medieval walls until they elect a new pontiff.
The 115 scarlet-robed "princes of the church" have sworn an oath of secrecy requiring, under pain of excommunication, that they reveal nothing of their deliberations for the duration of the secret conclave, which could last several days.