Okay, I'm going to try to lay off the history for awhile after this blog post, but I think this particular bit is very well-timed.
All of the cardinals are about to be sequestered together to pray and elect a new pope. Its called a conclave. Hopefully these cardinals will take at least a moment to offer up a prayer of thanks that the year is not 1241. Pope Gregory IX died and Senator Matteo Orsini of Rome wanted to force a quick decision by the ten cardinals on just who the next pope would be, because pope-less times were dangerous times.
So this Orsini guy locks the cardinals up in a thousand year old temple called the Semptizonium. The cardinals were stuck in a room, all windows blocked, with a few pieces of broken furniture, and ordered to choose a successor. They were only given occasional food.
Weeks passed by and the defiant cardinals refused to make a choice. Orsini ordered his guards to start urinating and defecating through holes in the roof. Storms rolled through and turned the floor where the cardinals were being held into a grotesque soup. All of the cardinals got sick....one died and was quickly put in a coffin.....in the same room.
Finally the poor cardinals had had all they could take and finally elected Godfrey of Sabina as Pope Celestine IV. Orsini set them free and the cardinals hauled ass out of there. But the newly elected Celestine IV died 16 days later from the ordeal he had suffered.
And do you think those cardinals would come back and meet again to elect a new pope? NOPE. There was no pope from November 1241 to June 1243.
Hopefully our modern day cardinals will be treated more respectfully. However, I think it might be wise to send in the Red Cross just to check things over.