conclave

Latin: cum, with; clavis, key

The enclosure of the cardinals while electing a pope. The first conclaves literally fulfilled the then meaning of the word. Cardinal electors, few in number and used to the medieval mode of sleeping in halls instead of small separated apartments, not only assembled in the one large room to vote as now, but also lived in the same room, in no instance going beyond the room that adjoined. Our locked-up juries illustrate the principle that urged Pope Gregory X to order election in conclave. He wanted to avoid protracted vacancies of the Holy See, his own election having been preceded by a vacancy of two years and nine months. The shutting up that the citizens of Viterbo, Italy had unlawfully practiced upon the cardinals who elected him was something that might well be legalized in the opinion of the pope. So he introduced the law of conclave in the Council of Lyons in 1274 over the protests of the cardinals. The few repeals or non-observances of the law since, have emphasized the wisdom of the secret election. Popes have permitted the cardinals by majority vote to dispense with conclave in an emergency. Pope Saint Pius X forbade the use of the alleged civil veto. Pius XI ordered that at least 15 days and not more than 18 intervene between the Pontiff‘s death and the opening of conclave.