The consistories at which Pope John XXIII elevates 23 prelates to the College of Cardinals this week are an elaborate series of ceremonies taking place over a four-day period. First comes a secret consistory at which the Pope recites to the old cardinals the names of those he proposes to elevate. The cardinals nod their assent. Immediately, messengers fan out to deliver the biglietto—the letter informing each cardinal-elect of his elevation (tradition demands that he feign surprise on receiving the letter). Two days later the new cardinals join the Pope at an "intimate"...

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