E-Mails Usurp Arcane Signs of Pope's Death

Another traditional tipoff that a pope has died is the ritual closing of the shutters of the two windows at the side of the pope’s apartment overlooking St. Peter’s Square. Some say the closing of the shutters can be the first tangible sign of a death.

Despite those arcane traditions, first official word that John Paul had died came in e-mails sent by the Vatican press office to accredited journalists.

That marked a stark departure from the centuries-old traditions of one of the world’s most enduring institutions, the Roman Catholic Church. —William J. KoleE-Mails Usurp Arcane Signs of Pope’s Death (Guardian | AP)