Papal conclave, 1963
Coat of arms during the vacancy of the Holy See
|Dates and location|
|19–21 June 1963
Sistine Chapel, Apostolic Palace,
|Camerlengo||Benedetto Aloisi Masella|
|Giovanni Battista Montini
(Name taken: Paul VI)
The Papal conclave of 1963 was convoked following the death of Pope John XXIII on 3 June that year in the Apostolic Palace. After the cardinal electors assembled in Rome, the conclave to elect John's successor began on 19 June and ended two days later, on 21 June, after six ballots. The cardinals elected Giovanni Battista Montini, then Archbishop of Milan, as the new pope. He accepted the election and took the pontifical name of Paul VI.
John XXIII's death left the future of the Second Vatican Council in the balance, as the election of an anti-Council pope could have severely curbed the Council's role. The leading papabile candidates were Giovanni Battista Montini of Milan, who had not yet been Cardinal at the time of the previous conclave and was supportive of reforms proposed at the Council, and Giuseppe Siri of Genoa, papabile in 1958 and critical of these reforms. Reportedly, John XXIII had sent oblique signals indicating that he thought Montini would make a fine pope.
The 1963 conclave, which was held from 19 to 21 June, at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, was the largest ever assembled until that time. There were eighty-two cardinals, but owing to his house arrest, József Mindszenty could not travel to Rome, while Carlos María de la Torre did not participate owing to his advanced age and chronic health problems. Of the eighty cardinals who did participate, eight had been elevated by Pope Pius XI, twenty-seven by Pius XII, and the remainder by John XXIII. Each cardinal elector was allowed one aide.
About the earlier ballots, various rumours persist: some allege that reform-minded cardinals initially voted for Leo Joseph Suenens of Mechelen-Brussels and Franz König of Vienna, to remind the electors that the pope does not have to be Italian, while others report that conservative cardinals attempted to block Montini's election in the early balloting. (Gustavo Testa, an old friend of John XXIII, had subsequently lost his temper in the Chapel and demanded that the intransigents stop impeding Montini’s path.) In a version of the Siri Thesis, some claim that Cardinal Siri received the two-thirds required for a valid election but eventually refused the office, allegedly under pressure. When asked two decades later whether in both the 1958 and 1963 conclaves he had initially been elected as pontiff, Siri is reported by Louis Hubert Remy to have responded "I am bound by the secret. This secret is horrible. I would have books to write about the different conclaves. Very serious things have taken place. But I can say nothing." However, in public Siri fully submitted to the authority of all subsequent popes in his lifetime: John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II.
The favourite candidate, Giovanni Battista Montini, was elected after only six ballots. By the fourth ballot on 20 June, according to Time Magazine, the Milanese archbishop only needed four additional votes to obtain the required number of votes. When officially asked by Eugène-Gabriel-Gervais-Laurent Tisserant if he accepted his election, Montini replied, Accepto, in nomine Domini ("I accept, in the name of the Lord") and chose to be known as Pope Paul VI.
At 11:22 am, white smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, signifying the successful election of a new pope. Alfredo Ottaviani, in his capacity as the senior Cardinal Deacon, announced Montini's election in the traditional Latin; before Ottaviani had even finished saying Montini's name, the crowd beneath the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica erupted into applause. The following is a transcription of the Habemus Papam announcement as delivered by Cardinal Ottaviani.
Which, translated into English, can be read as follows:
I announce unto you a great joy
We have a Pope:
The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lord
Lord Giovanni Battista Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Montini,
Who takes to himself the name Paul VI.
Pope Paul VI shortly afterwards appeared on the balcony to give his first blessing. On this occasion, Pope Paul VI chose not to give the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing but instead chose to give the shorter Apostolic Blessing. The following is the text of the blessing as delivered by Pope Paul VI with the responses given by the others present:
Which translated into English means as follows:
Blessed be the name of the Lord
R: Both here now and in the ages
Our help is in the name of the Lord
R: Who made heaven and earth.
May Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you.
After giving the blessing, Pope Paul VI proclaimed a plenary indulgence attached to the blessing he had just given.
|Number of ballots||6|
|DECEASED POPE||JOHN XXIII (1958–1963)|
|NEW POPE||PAUL VI (1963–1978)|
- elezione Papa Paolo VI (1963) . YouTube. Accessed on December 22, 2012.
- Un'opera che continua Edizione straordinaria. YouTube. Accessed on March 16, 2012.
- Martin, Malachi (1991). The Keys of this Blood. New York: Touchstone. pp. 607–608. ISBN 0671747231.
- Remy, Louis Hubert (1986). The Pope: Could He Be Cardinal Siri?.. Translated into English by Heidi Hagen for “The Sangre de Cristo Newsnotes” – No. 55 – December 1987.