The general congregation - the special assembly of cardinals - starts its work today in the Synod Hall of the Apostolic Palace, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

Official invitations to the congregation were sent out on behalf of the Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals on March 1, the first day of the "vacant throne", declared after the resignation of Benedict XVI on February 28.

As director of the Holy See Press Service Father Federico Lombardi said in interview, the general congregation is important extended consultation before the vote in the conclave.

Father Lombardi indirectly confirmed that the main candidates have already been identified before the vote.

The Sistine Chapel is closed for a visit with the upcoming Tuesday, to prepare for a conclave.

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