On the last Sunday before conclave, Catholic cardinals worshiped in Vatican City, while worldwide media attention focused in on them.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who is considered by some to be a contender to be the next pope, was besieged by reporters from around the world as he tried to make his way into a parish Sunday.
Why is this such a huge story, and why does the selection of a new pope matter, particularly for non-Roman Catholics?
A priest, imam and rabbi in Raleigh say the answer is obvious.
"It matters to the world, of course, because Christianity and Catholicism have had a significant presence in the religious world for so many centuries," said Rabbi Lucy Dinner of Temple Beth Or.
"I think it matters to me, and I know it matters to many of my colleagues around the world," said Rev. Greg Jones of St. Michael's Episcopal Church. "I think historically and globally, like it or not, the pope is the most important Christian in the world in terms of their voice, in terms of what they say about the gospel and about God's will."
"As a Muslim, I will be looking forward to see who will be the new pope," said Imam Sameh Asal of the Islamic Center of Raleigh. "Based on his leadership, we will see an improvement in the relationships between the people of different communities of faith."
Dinner said she was sending prayers to Catholic cardinals as they begin the selection process.
"My prayers are with the church, with those who are making this decision," she said. "I know this is very difficult time for the church."