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PHOTOS: Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

Last updated on: March 13, 2013 10:27 IST

PHOTOS: Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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The 115 cardinals responsible for electing a new Pope are currently inside the most beautiful chapel in the world, holding the most furiously guarded conclave on the planet.

Inside the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, the cardinals will cast their secret vote and choose a new leader for the 1.2 billion strong Roman Catholic population.

We bring you some breathtaking images from inside the Sistine Chapel -- a venue also known for the timeless masterpieces of mighty Italian painters like Raphael and Michelangelo.

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Image: American Cardinals (left to right) Sean P O'Malley, Keith O'Brien and Timothy M Dolan board a bus to take them from the North American College to St Peter's Basilica where a Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass will be celebrated before they enter the Conclave to decide who the next pope will be on March 12, 2013 in Rome, Italy.
Photographs: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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A member of The Swiss Guard closes the gate at the Arch of the Bells at St Peter's Basilica. 

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Photographs: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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Cardinals and Bishops attend a concert by the Augsburg Cathedral Boys Choir and the Munich Residenz Orchestra in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

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Photographs: Osservatore Romano/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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Part of the Sistine Chapel is pictured at the Vatican.

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Photographs: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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A security guard stands inside the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

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Photographs: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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People sit under the statue of St Peter, which is depicted holding the symbolic keys to the Roman Catholic church, after the Cardinals went into the Sistine Chapel for the conclave.

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Photographs: Kai Pfaffenbach KP/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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Newly installed tables for the ongoing conclave stand under Michaelangelo's frescoes in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel

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Photographs: Kai Pfaffenbach KP/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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Michaelangelo's frescoes line the ceiling of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, after workers readied the premises before the conclave.

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Photographs: Pier Paolo Cito/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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Journalist admire frescos by Sandro Botticelli (Left), Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli (Right)  December 10, after a news conference to present the fully restored 15th-century frescoes of the Sistine Chapel after completing a 20-year revamping of this famous chamber where cardinals huddle to elect their new Pope.

The operation, to clean marble works and frescoes on the side walls telling the stories of Moses and of Christ, enabled scholars to say with greater precision who painted what.

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Photographs: Pier Paolo Cito/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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Part of the Sistine Chapel is pictured at the Vatican.

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Photographs: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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Security guards stand inside the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

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Photographs: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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Frescos adorn the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

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Photographs: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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The Sistine Chapel is pictured at the Vatican

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Photographs: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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Members of the fire and rescue service set a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

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Photographs: Max Rossi/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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Workers prepare the Sistine Chapel for the conclave at the Vatican.

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Photographs: Osservatore Romano/Reuters
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Inside the SECRET chamber of power at the Vatican

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Staff at the Victoria and Albert Museum hang a tapestry designed by Raphael titled 'The Healing of the Lame Ma' in central London, September 3, 2010. Four of ten tapestries designed by Raphael for the Sistine Chapel are on show for the first time ever alongside their full sized designs; known as the Raphael Cartoons; which have been on display at the V & A since 1865.

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Photographs: Andrew Winning/Reuters
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