What happened 58 years ago today?
The White Conclave Smoke of Oct. 26, 1958
We realize we’ve brought this up a few times before, and we don’t want to beat the topic to death, but there are probably a lot of new readers of our site out there now who may not be aware of what happened 58 years ago today at the conclave that was taking place in Rome to elect a successor to Pope Pius XII.
As happens after the death of every Pope, so too in 1958 the cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City to determine who would succeed the late Pius XII, who had died on Oct. 9. The conclave opened on Saturday, Oct. 25. Officially, it ended on Tuesday, Oct. 28 with the election of Cardinal Angelo Roncalli, who took the name “John XXIII”.
Anyone who goes to a library to research the conclave — or even does some online newspaper searches, as can easily be done nowadays — will discover that something curious happened on Sunday, Oct. 26, the second day of the conclave: White smoke, signaling the successful election of a Pope, poured out of the Sistine Chapel chimney around 6:00 pm that day. Not just a few puffs, as might easily happen at any time as the straw struggles to catch fire, but a great quantity of clearly white smoke, lasting a whole five minutes. (If you don’t think five minutes is a long time, count to 60 five times in a row and see how long it is.)
In addition to the white smoke, the bells of St. Peter’s began ringing to confirm the successful papal election, and the Swiss Guards hurried to their assigned positions to prepare the welcome of the new Pope. The crowds gathered in the piazza of St. Peter’s cheered. Vatican Radio announced confidently: “There can be absolutely no doubt. A Pope has been elected.”
The trouble was only that no Pope ever appeared. After five minutes, the smoke started to turn gray, and confusion ensued. After about half an hour, the crowd dispersed, and Vatican Radio had to announce that apparently there had been a mistake made.
All this was reported by the Associated Press and in various newspapers across the globe the following day, Oct. 27. Then, on Oct. 28, the conclave again produced white smoke, and this time Cardinal Roncalli appeared as “Pope John XXIII”. You can watch video of Roncalli’s appearance here. More conclave footage is available here.
Normally, smoke issues and such in a conclave would not concer us much — this had happened before, after all, and by itself it doesn’t have to mean anything. However, keep in mind that this conclave — that of 1958 — is the one that changed everything for Catholics. It was, so to speak, the official beginning of the Novus Ordo Church, for it was John XXIII that began to turn things topsy-turvy and called the Second Vatican Council out of the blue, demanding that it begin even without sufficient preparation.
It was John XXIII who laid the groundwork for the Novus Ordo religion: He instituted the “Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity”, thus opening the door to ecumenism; he called for a one-world government and for religious freedom in his essentially Masonic “encyclical” Pacem in Terris (see nn. 136-138; n. 14); he rehabilitated shady theological characters suspected of heresy and/or silenced under Pius XII and Pius XI by appointing them as theological advisers for the council, such as Joseph Ratzinger, Yves Congar, Jean Danielou, Karl Rahner, and Henri de Lubac; he permitted the entire orthodox preparatory theological work for Vatican II to be thrown out and replaced with Modernist pseudo-theology; he made a deal with the Russians that guaranteed the council wouldn’t denounce Communism; and he paved the way for Archbishop Giovanni Battista Montini to become “Pope” by wasting no time to name him “cardinal”. We would be foolish to ignore the objectively verifiable oddities surrounding this conclave. It was the key moment that ushered in everything that we have come to know since as the strange new Novus Ordo religion.
What happened inside the conclave? Why was there white smoke two days before the conclave officially ended? Was someone else elected Pope before Roncalli? The smoke is produced by the burning of the voting ballots together with either wet or dry straw. Wet straw produces black smoke; dry straw produces white. White smoke would never be signaled unless the cardinal elected also accepted the election, for only then does he actually become Pope.
So, was someone elected Pope that day, and if so, who? Frankly, we do not know for sure. The most commonly mentioned name here is that of the Archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, allegedly the man Pius XII himself wanted to have as his successor and, in any case, highly favored as the next Pope after Pius. From the mid-1950s onwards, Siri was reporteldy already preparing himself for a possible pontificate:
Other cardinals that are sometimes brought up as having been elected Pope in 1958 include Federico Tedeschini and Grégoire-Pierre Agagianian. In fact, in 2004, the highly-regarded Inside the Vatican magazine published the following in its pages:
There were certain irregularities about the election during that 1958 conclave, as Cardinal Tisserant has himself acknowledged. Some say Agagianian was elected, others Siri, others some other cardinal, and that the camerlengo [=cardinal chamberlain] then annulled the election. In any case, I’m quite sure John XXIII chose his name, the name of an antipope [of the 15th century; see here], quite consciously, to show he had been irregularly elected.
(Fr. Charles-Roux, Inside the Vatican, September 2004, p. 41)
These “irregularities” would certainly explain why Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York was seen “coming out of the conclave looking white and shaken”, as Mgr. Joseph C. Fenton reported in one of his personal diaries (see entry dated Nov. 2, 1960).
Another oddity pertaining to this conclave was the fact that after his famous balcony appearance, John XXIII ordered all the cardinals to re-enter the conclave for another 24 hours — to the great displeasure of the eminences who were elderly and ill:
[John XXIII] commanded the cardinals to remain in conclave with him for a further twenty-four hours, so that he would have the chance to consult with them. The cardinals, no doubt, were anxious to get out of their confined quarters (many of them were very old indeed — one was ninety-six — and several were ailing). But they accepted the command in the spirit in which it was given: John’s eager desire to draw all of them into the government of the church, in striking contrast to his predecessor. It was an augury of things to come. But the command, naturally, was not at once communicated to the outside world. The announcement of the new pontiff was made at four forty-five, from the balcony of St. Peter’s. [Mgr. Domenico] Tardini, the acting secretary of state, assumed that the conclave was now over and, together with a cluster of senior officials, burst into the sealed area to make his mark with his new master. This aroused the righteous anger of [Cardinal Eugene] Tisserant, who excommunicated Tardini on the spot — the canonical punishment for interrupting a conclave. It was a bizarre episode, half-comic, half-serious. No one could recall the last occasion on which a secretary of state, even an acting one, had been cut off from the church. Pope John, in great good humor, lifted the penalty the next day. But it was, all the same, the first sign, and a disturbing one, to the monsigniori of the Curia that the church had entered a new age.
(Paul Johnson, Pope John XXIII [Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1974], pp. 114-115)
Who knows whether Roncalli really merely wanted to “consult” with his cardinals, or whether perhaps he was making clear to them what consequences there would be in case any of them should ever let on to the fact that he had usurped the papal chair.
In 2003, former FBI consultant Paul L. Williams — not someone sympathetic to Sedevacantism — published a book in which he wrote at some length about the 1958 conclave and quoted from alleged declassified U.S. intelligence documents to the effect that the white smoke had indeed been caused by the election of Cardinal Siri as Pope Gregory XVII:
In 1954 Count Della Torre, editor of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, warned [Pope] Pius XII of [Cardinal Angelo] Roncalli’s Communist sympathies. Other members of the “Black Nobility” expressed similar concerns.
Nor did Roncalli [later known as “Pope John XXIII”] escape the attention of the FBI and CIA. The agencies began to accumulate thick files on him and the questionable activities of other “progressives” within the Vatican, including Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Paul VI).
Pius XII had appointed Cardinal Giuseppe Siri as his desired successor. Siri was rabidly anti-Communist, an intransigent traditionalist in matters of church doctrine, and a skilled bureaucrat….
In 1958 [on October 26], when the cardinals were locked away in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope, mysterious events began to unfold. On the third ballot, Siri, according to FBI sources, obtained the necessary votes and was elected as Pope Gregory XVII. White smoke poured from the chimney of the chapel to inform the faithful that a new pope had been chosen. The news was announced with joy at 6 P.M. on Vatican radio. The announcer said, “The smoke is white. . . . There is absolutely no doubt. A pope has been elected.” …
But the new pope failed to appear. Questions began to arise whether the smoke was white or gray. To quell such doubts, Monsignor Santaro, secretary of the Conclave of Cardinals, informed the press that the smoke, indeed, had been white and that a new pope had been elected. The waiting continued. By evening Vatican radio announced that the results remained uncertain. On October 27, 1958, the Houston Post headlined: “Cardinals Fail to elect pope in 4 Ballots: Mix-Up in Smoke Signals Cause False Reports.” 
But the reports had been valid. On the fourth ballot, according to FBI sources, Siri again obtained the necessary votes and was elected supreme pontiff. But the French cardinals annulled the results, claiming that the election would cause widespread riots and the assassination of several prominent bishops behind the Iron Curtain.
The cardinals opted to elect Cardinal Frederico Tedischini as a “transitional pope,” but Tedischini was too ill to accept the position.
Finally, on the third day of balloting, Roncalli received the necessary support to become Pope John XXIII….
(Paul L. Williams, The Vatican Exposed [Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003], pp. 90-92)
For more information about this book as well as the footnoted documentation that the author cites here, please see the following link:
An intriguing video clip on the white smoke and the whole matter regarding the alleged election of Cardinal Siri as Pope can be found on YouTube. It is part of the documentary Papal Imposters, which we have linked in full further below. If anything, it is certainly thought-provoking:
Let’s be clear: We’re not trying to push the “Pope Siri” thesis, which has very serious problems. Nor are we trying to suggest that knowing what happened inside that conclave is necessary for Sedevacantism to be certain. It definitely is not necessary, because although we may not know the exact cause of what has happened, we certainly know the effect, and the effect tells us that the Vatican II Church is a fraud. (For details on the effect, please see “The Syllogism of Sedevacantism”).
What, then, are we trying to do? What is the point of bringing this up? Quite simply, we direct attention to this bizarre event in Church history because it is the origin, the zero hour, of the Vatican II religion. Until that time, the world had not yet seen any Novus Ordo anything: no ecumenism, no Vatican II, now “New Mass”, no pant-suit New Age nuns, no altar girls, no clown “Masses”, no condemnation of the death penalty, no “Great Renewal” or “New Springtime”, no World Youth Days, no papal journeys all over the globe, no man-centered religion — none of that. In short, the religion the world today (falsely) knows as “Roman Catholicism” did not exist up until that time. All of that took its beginning with the election of John XXIII. So, if there is one pivotal watershed event that marked the transition from Catholic Church to Novus Ordo Sect, it was this conclave — a conclave which produced a false pope — and it is certainly legitimate to inquire just what the reason/cause might be for the gigantic mess that has befallen us since. A real Pope being elected before John XXIII would certainly explain a lot, irrespective, for the moment, of who that real Pope actually was.
So, if another cardinal was elected Pope on Oct. 26, i.e. before Roncalli, and this other cardinal accepted his election, it would explain why Roncalli did not ascend to the Pontificate validly — because another Pope was already reigning. Although it would raise any number of other questions and issues, it would nevertheless provide the key to understanding why a conclave could all of a sudden produce an antipope even despite virtually the entire world accepting the man as valid (cf. Cardinal Billot on universal peaceful acceptance). After all, it is a matter of divine law that no one can validly be elected Pope while another valid Pope is already reigning.
Knowing about and understanding the facts surrounding the 1958 conclave helps give people hope, for it provides an explanation for how the Catholic Church could be eclipsed by the Novus Ordo Sect — it would allow for the papacy to be apparently overcome without being actually overcome. This is why we keep saying that the only way to credibly maintain that the gates of hell have not prevailed against the Catholic Church — which is an infallible dogma and guaranteed by Christ Himself — is to say that Francis is not a valid Pope and the institution in Rome is not the Catholic Church anymore:
- The Papacy and Sedevacantism: Have the Gates of Hell Prevailed?
- Cardinal Manning on the Eclipse of the Papacy
So, the whole subject is by no means frivolous, silly, or unworthy of further investigation. Keep in mind that for many decades true Popes had warned us about Freemasonic infiltration into the Church, Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII ordered the publication of the leaked plans of the Alta Vendita Lodge detailing how the infiltration was going to be accomplished, and the Apocalypse in Holy Scripture itself prophesies a hindered papal election. Furthermore, the former Vatican Noble Guard Franco Bellegrandi revealed in an explosive book in 1994 (available in PDF here) that Roncalli’s election had been determined and planned beforehand — Roncalli was to be the Masons’ choice to “consecrate ecumenism”, make Montini a “cardinal”, and put in motion the theological revolution seen at Vatican II. Mission accomplished.
There is so much to say and speculate about on this topic, and there are many unresolved questions. We won’t try to recount all the facts now, nor will we evaluate all the rumors surrounding this conclave. We will simply content ourselves with providing the following additional links as further incentives for those interested in researching the matter in greater depth:
- Documentary: Papal Impostors — Video (YouTube)
- Documentary: Papal Impostors — DVD
- Report on Conclave by Italian Corriere della Sera of Oct. 27, 1958 (PDF)
- Nikita Roncalli: Counterlife of a Pope (PDF) by Franco Bellegrandi — reveals the Masonic influence in the 1958 Conclave and the predetermined “election” of John XXIII
- Cardinal Giuseppe Siri — was he elected Pope Gregory XVII in 1958?
- White Smoke 1958 — somewhat speculative but very interesting web site
- John XXIII — The Facts on Angelo Roncalli
- Fr. Herman Kramer warns in 1955: “If Satan would contrive to hinder a papal election, the Church would suffer great travail”
If you have the means to do so, please hit the libraries and try to piece together as much information as possible about the 1958 conclave. Who knows, maybe a little informational detail hidden somewhere will provide us with the key to finally figuring out how the usurpation of the Papal Throne was accomplished, and what else happened during that fateful week in Rome.
Image sources: composite (YouTube screenshot / Daily Gleaner) / Alamy Stock Photo (colaimages)
Licenses: fair use / rights-managed