In 1268, a conclave began that lasted nearly three years — 33 months to be exact. Pope Gregory X was elected pope, but not before residents of Viterbo, north of Rome, tore the roof off the building where the cardinals were staying and restricted their meals to bread and water to make them hurry up. Hoping to avoid a repeat, Gregory decreed in 1274 that cardinals would only get one meal a day if the conclave stretched beyond three days, and served bread, water and wine if it went beyond eight. While the meals served these days at the Vatican’s hotel are by no means gourmet, the cardinals won’t go hungry — no matter how long they take picking a pope.
Pictured: The Loggia of the Blessings was seen behind the statue of Saint Peter in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on March 11.