Pope Watch 2013: Black Smoke, White Smoke, and Text Alerts

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Update 12:19 PST March 13, 2013: Several sources report that Argentinian Jorge Bergoglio has been elected pope.

Update 11:42 a.m. PST March 13, 2013 White smoke was spotted at the Vatican. We are awaiting the new pope to be introduced on the balcony of the St. Peter's Basilica. --Grace

Update 9:11 a.m. PST March 13, 2013: Another round of black smoke was sighted at the Vatican. The cardinals can vote up to four times today. --Grace

Day One of the papal conclave has ended without a new pope. Black smoke blew out of the Sistine Chapel smokestack at the Vatican Tuesday, signaling that the first vote of the cardinals didn't result in the two-thirds majority needed to select the next leader of the Catholic Church.

There’s never been a papal transition like this -- not only because of the nearly unprecedented resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, not just because of the diversity of candidates to fill his embroidered satin slippers, but in the way social media is modernizing the way we're following this age-old tradition.

cardinal papal conclave 2013

March 12, 2013 - Vatican City: A cardinal puts on his mitre during the religious mass 'Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice' at Saint Peter's Basilica. The 115 cardinal-electors attend a special Mass in St Peter's Basilica. This afternoon they will process into the Sistine Chapel to begin their secret deliberations. They will vote four times daily until two-thirds can agree on a candidate. (Image: © Michael Kappeler/DPA/ZUMAPRESS.com)

For example, just before noon Pacific Time, my iPhone buzzed, with an AP News alert that black smoke was rising from the Vatican smokestack.

"Pope," "Vatican," and "Black Smoke" were all trending on Twitter


Want to learn more about who could be the next pope? You can see pictures and bios of the candidates at The Guardian's Pontifficator.

While white smoke billowing out of the Vatican smokestack is the traditional sign that a new Catholic leader has been chosen, that's sooo 1059. Nowadays, you can get your papal update via wi-fi.

Another Guardian website, Is There White Smoke? keeps it simple, displaying just a one-word update along with the appropriate color smoke.

Or you can sign up for email or text alerts on Pope Alarm.

Not to be left behind, the Vatican has its own app; the Twitter account @Pontifex has 1.6 million followers, although the tweets by Pope Benedict XVI have already been archived.

March 12, 2013 - Vatican City: Cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel prior to the start of the conclave at the Vatican. (Image: © Osservatore Romano/Eidon Press/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Are you following the conclave? What are you checking to get your papal updates? And what's your favorite pope joke?

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs at HapaMama and A Year (Almost) Without Shopping.

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