Cardinals from around the globe have descended on Rome for meetings ahead of the election of a pope to succeed the recently retired Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict XVI attends a meeting with his cardinals during a farewell ceremony in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace (L'Osservatore Romano / Vatican Pool via Getty Images)

The first pre-conclave meeting is scheduled for Monday morning, headed by the dean of the College of Cardinals Cardinal Angelo Sodano. He has said the date for the conclave won't be set until all cardinals are in Rome, meaning a definitive date may not come Monday.

The function of the meetings is to discuss the problems facing the church and for the cardinals to get to know one another — both of which are designed to help the 115 voting-age cardinals choose the right man for the papacy.

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