A chimney has been installed on top of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican in readiness for the conclave that will elect a new pope.
Roman Catholic cardinals will be ensconced in the chapel from Tuesday for deliberations to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XIV.
The 85-year-old stepped down last month after nearly eight years in office blaming failing health. He first became the first pontiff to resign in 600 years.
Smoke from the chimney will signal the outcome of the ballots - black smoke indicating no decision has been made and white smoke announcing a new pontiff has been chosen.
The Vatican said the first vote will be held on Tuesday afternoon and ballots will usually be burned twice a day.
Other preparations have been taking place at the Sistine Chapel this week, the BBC reports.
Two stoves that will produce the smoke from burnt ballot papers have been fitted in the chapel.
Tables and seating have been set under Michelangelo's frescoed ceiling for the cardinals.
Special technology has been installed to jam any mobile phones or other devices which could breach the strict secrecy of the process.