Religion: Pastor of Souls

Many men have been tempted to refuse election to the papacy, and some have done so. One day in 1294, after rivalries between candidates had kept the papal throne empty for more than two years, an 84-year-old hermit in the mountains of Abruzzi watched a small procession of cardinals winding up the path to his hermitage, where they kissed his hand and proclaimed him Pope. He protested that he was unequal to the task, but they dragged him off weeping and crowned him Celestine V (they finally permitted him to resign six months later).

The awesome burdens of the papacy have hardly...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!