The Dean of the College of Cardinals reminded the electors of their duty to build up the unity of the Church in a homily before they begin the process of electing the new pope.
It was the final address the cardinals would hear before the conclave begins in the Sistine Chapel yesterday afternoon.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano spoke as reports suggested divisions between the cardinal-electors over the extent of reform needed in the Roman Curia.
In the Mass pro eligendo romano pontifice at St Peter's yesterday morning Cardinal Sodano highlighted the cardinals' mission of charity, mercy and love.
Read the full text of his homily here.
Quoting Pope Benedict, he said the greatest work of charity is evangelisation.
Referring to the reading from St Paul's Letter to the Ephesians (4: 1-3) he said it taught that pastors must work to build up the unity of the Church.
He said recent popes had tirelessly promoted justice and peace, adding: "Let us pray that the future pope may continue this unceasing work at world level."
The homily was largely unremarkable in its message and tone, and contrasted with that delivered at the same Mass in 2005 by the then Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The future Pope Benedict XVI then spoke of the threat posed by what he called the "dictatorship of relativism" and issued a rallying call to the Church to combat secularism.
In St Peter's Square amid the bustle of the countdown to the 2013 papal conclave there was a sense of anticipation this morning.
Visitors gazed up at the basilica's central balcony, which is now draped with red curtains, where at some point in the next few days the new pope will emerge.
Mingling with the tourists are the journalists and camera crews - there are 6,000 of them covering the conclave - as well as priests, Religious and lay groups. Some priests are attired traditionally, in cassocks and Roman collars, while others are more casually dressed in cagouls and flat caps. As for Religious, there are Franciscans in traditional brown or grey habits but also newer orders, including a group of young men in flowing denim and postulants in denim hoodies.
The mood has been one of pure excitement - untainted by grief. Pope Benedict's resignation has led the faithful here in Rome to look forward to the election of his successor without looking back in sorrow. In 2005 the shadow cast by John Paul II's long final illness and death was still present.
Yesterday morning's Mass before the conclave - pro eligendo romano pontifce - saw an almost carnival mood in the square as members of the congregation filed out, many of them smiling broadly.
Now the cardinal-electors' enforced seclusion in the Sistine Chapel has begun, their conclave days are strictly regulated. At the start of their first session yesterday they took an oath of secrecy, meditated and then voted in one ballot. Following Vespers yesterday evening they were be taken by minibus - or walked - the short journey through the Vatican Gardens to their guesthouse, the Domus Sanctae Marthae (St Martha's Residence).
They rose early for breakfast served between 6.30 and 7.30am before being taken to Mass in the Pauline Chapel. Then it was back to the Sistine Chapel for two rounds of voting before lunch at Domus Sanctae Marthae. The pattern will be repeated in the evening.
So for the crowds in St Peter's Square and those watching on screens around the world, it's chimney-watch. We've had two lots of black smoke so far. With the showery weather and gloomy skies in Rome at the moment seeing any smoke at all is difficult. But we are looking ...
Above: The doors of the Sistine Chapel are shut at the start of the conclave yesterday