Friday, April 08, 2005

So, how are they keeping the Pope alive? (or, another "interesting" reference question)

I made it to the end of another week, and I am about to head home as soon as I wrap some details up. The library is closed, so the place is quiet, a good time to reflect a little.

So, what's with the title of this post? It is not as irreverent as it sounds. At 20 minutes before we close, I am sitting at the Information Desk with the Distance Ed. Librarian, who is on duty. I am just there for back up, so to speak. She answers the phone, and the lady says to the librarian, "I am a Yoga instructor, and I need to know how they are keeping the Pope alive?" That was the exact wording. The librarian grabbed my arm, and I wondered for a moment if everything was ok, maybe someone was calling a threat or something. As she speaks to the patron, she tells her, the Pope is dead, and the lady at the other end of the line says a bit distressed that she knew that, but what she meant was if theyt embalmed him or not? She was worried because she was Catholic (or claimed to be Catholic) and wondered if the practice was ok or not, yet the Pope was being viewed publicly. I helped with a web search while she continued talking to the patron. What we found out was the His Holiness was likely not embalmed based on the little reports that came from the Vatican. He was likely "prepared" which means he had some cosmetic touching up and minimal preservation efforts done. This was according to a report from the Associated Press dated April 5th; we just did a quick Google search. The search also leads to other reports in places like CNN which have some nice interactive features to explain the rituals and so on. So, we learned something new, since we also read about how previous Popes had been prepared for burial, but most importantly, we found an answer for the patron. No, they are not keeping him alive. Yes, he was only "prepared" for burial.

And thus ends another week. On a final note, may His Holiness rest in peace. Regardless of beliefs, the man was a man of peace, and in the world we live in, that is admirable.

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