Mourning period, reign of pope officially over
VATICAN CITY – Cardinals destroyed Pope John Paul II’s ring and lead seal Saturday to formally end his reign, while the Vatican expressed confidence that jamming devices and other unprecedented precautions would keep the name of the new pope secret until it is announced to the world from a balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
The official nine-day mourning period for John Paul, which began with a funeral attended by world leaders and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, ended with a Mass celebrated Saturday afternoon in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The destruction of John Paul’s Fisherman’s Ring and the seal marked a symbolic end of the pope’s 26-year reign and came during the cardinals’ last meeting before they sequester themselves in the Sistine Chapel beginning Monday to choose a successor.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said “specialized technicians” of the Vatican Gendarmeria had made sure no communications could emerge from the chapel and he said he was confident that no leaks would emerge from the conclave.
The Vatican Gendarmeria were responsible for all security surrounding the conclave, he said, ruling out speculation that experts from outside had been brought in to debug the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican hotel and other rooms where cardinals will meet.
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