Lifestyle & Belief

Fun Fact of the Day: Hunger Games, Vaticano style


Cardinals attend a mass at the St. Peter's basilica before the start of the conclave on March 12, 2013, at the Vatican.


Gabriel Bouys

Twas the start of the conclave and all thoughout Rome, streets were abuzz 'bout votes under the dome.

The red drapes were hung o'er the windows with care, in hopes that white smoke puffs soon would be there.

Soon being the operative word, of course.

In recent memory, the selection of the next pope has generally been a quick affair. In fact, the longest papal conclave since the beginning of the 20th century lasted only five days.

However, the election of the pope has not always been known for its brevity. 

Back in the 13th century, it took nearly three years to install a new pope, and the conclave could have lasted even longer if the local townspeople hadn't resorted to drastic measures.

In fact, two years and eight months into the conclave mentioned above, townspeople tried everything to encourage a quicker decision. Frustrated and impatient, locals rioted and locked the cardinals inside before resorting to more extreme measures— namely starving the cardinals and tearing the roof off the building to expose them to the elements, according to ABC News.

Conditions became so harsh that two cardinals died and a third had to leave due to ill health before the remaining electors eventually chose Gregory as the next pope.

Determined to make sure that such an ordeal would never happen again, Pope Gregory ruled in 1274 that in the future, cardinals would be locked in a single room with an adjoining lavatory in the papal palace within 10 days of a pontiff's death.

If, after three days, no pope was elected, the cardinals would be served only one dish for lunch and supper instead of two. And after five days, they would be given only bread, water and a little wine until they reached a final decision.

And while Gregory's rules are certainly much less extreme than the previous, and somewhat aimless method, it still reeks of a literal 'hunger games' to us.

All jokes aside, the starvation technique has proven quite successful — though, it does beg the question: Is speed always a virtue? 

While this gradual starvation method is perhaps a necessary evil, we still aren't sure that forcing such a momentous decision on a group of hungry older gentlemen is necessarily the most logical option. 

In any case, all we non-cardinals can do is wait for the white smoke to appear.

But at least we can freely snack while we do so.

Hat tip to Peter Stefanovic for the hunger games inspiration.