Official Vatican Painter Awaits Next Subject

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VATICAN CITY (FOX) -The papal conclave begins Tuesday.  Along with the College of Cardinals, one very important woman is getting ready:  the official papal painter.

The Sistine Chapel is being readied to house the cardinals for the conclave. Workers installed a chimney to vent the famous smoke of burning ballots after each round of voting.  Simple benches and tables are ready for the 115 men who will kneel before Michelangelo’s “The Final Judgment” in prayer and then cast their votes for the next pope.

More coverage: Conclave To Select Pope Convenes Tuesday

Top of the Cardinals minds will be the legacies and leadership of the two most recent but very different popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

For insight we turned to Natalia Tsarkova, the woman who painted the official portrait of both men after studying and spending time with each. She says John Paul had lots of charisma and was like a father.  She painted him with white robes symbolizing his purity.

Benedict’s portrait is very different as was his papal personality.  His dress is red to symbolize faith and love.  She said Benedict was a scholar not known for his common touch.

As the pope’s right hand man when John Paul died, Benedict quickly became the favorite candidate. Benedict left no such legacy.  Meaning Natalia will have yet another pope to understand before capturing him for eternity.

The College of Cardinals will hold one round of voting Tuesday with four votes a day after that until one man receives a 2/3 majority. Until then, the cardinals will be locked in the Vatican under a vow of secrecy before white smoke wafts into the air above Vatican City.

More coverage: Who Will Be The Next Pope?

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