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Gastronomical Services to the Conclave.

According to the bulla of Pope Alexznder III in 1179 'Licet ad vitandam' , as well as the constitution of Gregory X 'Ubi periculum' from 1274, the election of a Pope is conducted by the cardinals, who must remain in total isolation until the point when a new Pope is chosen. This unfortunately has lead to (as does lead to) various gastronomical problems. The cardinals, usualy of old age, each have their own habits and recommendations for health. 
The conclave after the death of Paul III, who died on the 13th of November 1549, lasted until he was replaced by Pope Julius III on the 8th of February 1550. These were difficult times for the church, as well as a difficult election that lasted over two months. It was also a luxurious time, as the cardinals belonged to the cream of the society of their time. The meals for each cardinal were prepared by their servants, and then ceremonially brought over to the location of the conclave (which at present is held at the Sistine Chapel). 



All baskets and dishes needed to be carefully covered to ensure that nothing was added along the way, for example poisons. As the area of the palace that was allocated for the conference was reached, there was a special panel of bishops, whose job was to control that no information could get through to the cardinals.  
The control was very thorough, the bishops went as far as to open up the pancackes stuffed with pate (probably quite similar to our pie) to check that there was nothing suspicious inside. All under the careful watch of the Popes guard. 

After checking that the meals were 'clean', they were passed to the cardinals through especially constructed door with revolving trays as illustrated below. The whole procedure was described and illustrated by Bartolomeo Scappi (died 1570), the cook for a number of consecutive Popes, in a book entitled 'Opera' (published 1570).

 

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(C) (selected from publications of 
 R. Antoszewski

Titirangi, Auckland, 
New Zeland

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February  2003

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