Originally published 05/08/2013
Celestine V, the hermit pope who set precedent for Benedict XVI, has been given a new face and fate by researchers who have examined his skeletal remains.The last pontiff not chosen by a conclave — and the first to declare that a pope could rightfully resign — Celestine V is regarded as one of the Catholic Church’s most enigmatic popes.His remains, kept in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L’Aquila, Italy, did not show his real face, but a wax mask with the likeness of Cardinal Carlo Confalonieri, the Archbishop of L’Aquila from 1941 to 1950....
Originally published 02/26/2013
Beneath a glass coffin, wearing a pontiff's miter and faded vestments of gold and purple, there lies a tiny man with a wax head.This represents an Italian priest who, until this month, was the only pope in history to voluntarily resign.His name is Celestine V.Celestine became pope at 84, some seven centuries ago, after a long and self-punishing career as a hermit.Though a celebrated spiritual leader, and founder of a new branch of the Benedictine order, his papacy lasted just over five months. It's widely viewed as an utter disaster.He left at 85 — the same age as Benedict XVI....