Religion: Death of a Pope

Before the great bronze doors of the Vatican, Swiss Guards in medieval uniforms leaned upon their halberds. It was near dawn, and broad St. Peter's Square lay still and dark in the cool Roman night. But lights still burned in the windows of the Vatican palaces, to the right of the Square and its long Bernini colonnades. One light shone dimly. In the small second-story chamber which it illuminated, on a plain brass bed, a weary old man lay breathing heavily. A black-cowled monk, a silent doctor kept vigil.

The old man on the...

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