Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of the conclave of cardinals gathering to elect a new pope. The cardinal electors are soon due to proceed into the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican to begin the process of choosing a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.
The cardinals will be repeating a centuries-old process to choose the new pontiff, much of it shrouded it in secrecy - watch this interactive BBC News guide to the conclave to learn more about the process, the likely contenders for the post and where the electors hail from.
The procession of cardinals, singing and praying, from the Vatican's Pauline Chapel into the Sistine Chapel has now begun.
At the beginning of the procession, a cardinal said in Latin: "The entire Church, united with us in prayer, asks for the grace of the Holy Spirit at this moment so that we elect a worthy shepherd for the entire flock of Christ."
The "litany of saints", as mentioned below, is a list of more than 150 saints which the cardinals recited by name to help in making their choice.
Bashkim Krasniqi, London,
emails: "I think it's time that the Vatican elected the first black Pope. Maybe he will make me go back to the faith I once loved and respected."
The cardinals are assembled beneath the frescoes by Michelangelo depicting scenes of the Creation and The Last Judgment.
Catholic faithful from around the world have been braving the rain in St Peter's Square, such as this group from the US: