Argentinian Cardinal Leonardo Sandri arrives for talks ahead of a conclave to elect a new pope on March 4, 2013 at the Vatican. The Vatican meetings will set the date for the start of the conclave this month and help identify candidates among the cardinals to be the next leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY (AP) - The clearest sign yet that a papal election is nearing has arrived, with the Sistine Chapel announcing it is closing to visitors.
As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Michelangelo's frescoed masterpiece will be sealed to tourists as Vatican workers put it into shape for the conclave: In 2005, the last time the College of Cardinals elected a pope, those preparations included installing a false floor to hide anti-bugging devices and attaching the stove, where the ballots are burned, to the Sistine Chapel's chimney.
Tuesday also brought a second day of pre-conclave meetings with cardinals to organize the election process and get to know one another. With a handful of cardinals still travelling to Rome, no date has yet been set for the start of the conclave.