|The now Pope-Emeritus, Advent 2011|
We are now officially past the half-way mark for Lent, so time to haul out those pink (sorry, rose) vestments.
And with the Conclave to elect the new Pope now set to start on Tuesday, we all have plenty of things to offer our prayers and penances as we approach the second half of the Lenten season with renewed vigour!
Once upon a time, Conclaves could last a very long time indeed - the longest went on for nearly three years. The longest in modern times, however, was 181 days, for the election of Benedict XIV in 1740.
Over the last century, though, none went beyond a few days - the shortest last two days; the longest five.
How long for this one? Well, we'll soon find out if it is true that there is no clear frontrunner, but Paddy Power statistics suggest that the most popular bet is for four days (at 7:1), but the bookmakers are offering 7:4 odds for one and two days, presumably on the basis of past form.
And just in case you are a man with Hadrian VII dreams, the next pope does not have to be a Cardinal - in fact he doesn't technically even have to be a bishop.
But according to the conclave facts (see the link above) put together by Dr Donald Prudlo, the last non-Cardinal elected was Gregory XVI, in 1831.