Reign of late Pope John Paul II formally ends
Roman Catholic Cardinals preparing to elect a successor to the late Pope John Paul II held a final round of consultations, two days before beginning the ultra-secret Conclave where the voting will take place.
The official nine-day mourning period for John Paul, which began with a funeral attended by world leaders and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, ended with a Mass celebrated Saturday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica.
The Cardinals met formally for the 12th and final time to wrap up debate on the state of the Church and characteristics of the man who should take the Helm, as well as final preparations for the Conclave.
The late pontiff's papal ring, the fisherman's ring, was also smashed according to centuries-old tradition, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.
The destruction of the ring, signifying the end of his 26-year Papacy, was performed by the Cardinal Camerlengo, or Chamberlain, Spain's Eduardo Martinez Somalo, who is temporarily in charge of the Holy See until a new Pope is elected. Somalo also broke the lead seal used to authenticate papal letters, in accordance with the apostolic constitution, as a prelude to the election. A new one will be made for the next Pope.