|A brace of emeriti: Pope Benedict XVI visits the relics of Pope Celestine V|
|Old portrait and new mask based on skull analysis|
Lest anyone think that his papacy was a total bust, it is worth noting that he had two big accomplishments. First, he renewed a decree to set strict rules for conclaves so that they wouldn't run on for two years. Although he himself was proclaimed pope by the Dean of the College of Cardinals rather than being elected by a conclave, every subsequent pope has been properly elected. Second, he created a formal process for papal resignations. Sadly, that process didn't include protections for papae emeriti.
The Monk Formerly Known as Celestine quietly walked out of Naples, thinking to retire into the wilderness where he could commune with the Lord. The Gaetani Family (one of those big Italian dynasties that were always trying to be bigger) managed to elect one of their own as the next pope -- Benedetto Gaetani became Pope Boniface VIII in 1294. Boniface VIII is notable for having been confined by Dante to the eighth circle of Hell.
[The picture at left plainly shows the Boniface does not mean "good face." I imagine his mother loved him though.]
Folks might debate the cause of death, but picture a 79 year old man experiencing five months of disastrous papacy followed by nine months on the lam, and then ten months confinement in a castle. The question's not what killed him but rather, how did he live so long?