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...

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