One Italian in the crowd seemed to be doing a little campaigning, hoisting a sign which mentioned the names of two Italian cardinals considered by observers to be potential contenders in the selection of the next pontiff.
Flags in the crowd represented many nations, with a large number from Brazil.
The cardinals in the conclave will have to decide whether it's time to look outside of Europe for a pope. The papacy was considered the realm of Italian prelates for centuries, until a Pole, John Paul II, was elected as pontiff in 1978, to be followed in 2005 by the German-born Benedict.
Crucially, Italian prelates have continued to run the behind-the-scenes machinery of the church's governance, and cardinals will likely be deciding what role the Italians might have played in a series of scandals clouding the central bureaucracy, including allegations of corruption and power-grabbing.
Benedict has not made any direct comment on details of the scandals.
In one of his last papal tweets, Benedict wrote Sunday in English: "In these momentous days, I ask you to pray for me and for the church, trusting as always in divine providence."
AP reporter Paolo Santalucia contributed to this report.
- Sister Frances J. Monson's legacy of love...
- LDS Church responds to Boy Scouts of...
- USA Today takes note of LDS sister missionaries
- Mormon Parenting: Don’t call gay unions...
- Defending the Faith: A case for the...
- 'Hollywood goes to Mormon country': BYU...
- Live streaming: Frances J. Monson funeral
- Letters to family show Steven Powell still...
- LDS Church responds to Boy Scouts of... 63
- Defending the Faith: A case for the... 57
- 'Tattooed Mormon' Al Fox shares her... 42
- Mormon Parenting: Don’t call gay... 38
- Secretary of State John Kerry says... 28
- Muslim leaders in U.S. facing... 25
- 'We're here to serve all boys,' Utah... 23
- Wright Words: Oklahoma tornado provides... 23