By Sarah Mac Donald - 13 December, 2014
There is no indication as to who the new cardinals will be, that is likely to become clearer in mid-January.
Of the 208 living members of the College of Cardinals, just 112 are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a papal election.
Pope John Paul II set the upper limit of cardinal-electors at 120, although a Pontiff can exceed that number.
According to Catholic World News, two cardinal-electors, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the retired head of the Vatican City governorate, and Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Jakarta, will celebrate their 80th birthdays before the February consistory.
Two others, the Coptic Catholic Patriarch Antonios Naguib and Cardinal Justin Rigali, the retired Archbishop of Philadelphia, will turn 80 in the two months after the consistory.
So Pope Francis could name 10 new cardinal-electors without breaking the upper limit, or 12 if he chooses to exceed the limit for a few weeks.
The Vatican also announced two other important appointments in February.
These are a meeting of the Council of Cardinals for the reform of the Roman Curia, which is due to meet between 9-11 February, and a meeting of the College of Cardinals from 12-13 February to discuss matters relating to the reorganisation of the Holy See.