Conclave Sizes Since Sixtus V, in 1586, Set Max. College Size to 70 & Then John XXIII Nixing That.

by Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.

The last two conclaves, the ones in 2013 & 2005, both had 115 electors.

The prior two conclaves, 50 days apart in 1978, both had 111 electors — though it was NOT the same 111 cardinals.

Quite the coincidence.

I had been wondering whether we ever had a ‘full-house’ conclave, i.e., 70 between 1586 and John XXIII, and 120 after Paul VI (#263).

I (obviously) knew that the 2005 conclave with 115 was the largest. So, I knew we had yet to hit the 120. Was not sure about the 70. Appears that we could have had 70 in Dec. 1565 and then in 1669. There were 70 cardinals ‘around’ the time of the sede vacante. But, we never did get 70 attending a post Sixtus V, pre. John XXIII conclave. We had two 66s in the 17th century. We also had one with 34 cardinals. So when I hear folks say that the pope doesn’t want to see the numbers electors fall below 100 — it makes me chortle. Per that metric we can afford to go down to 59.

So here is the chart. Enjoy.

Related posts:
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by Anura Guruge

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