Slate closes out PopeWeek with two closer looks at the fleshy reality behind all the spiritual flapdoodle:
Marc Fisher reminds readers that back in the actual year 1989, it was the allure of big TVs, fresh fruit, and new cars, not the prospect of trading a set of authority figures in drab garb for one authority figure in outlandish garb, that motivated Eastern Europeans to get out into the street.
More intriguingly, the Explainer column takes a CSI look at the Pontiff's unembalmed body and reviews the varied history of papal putrefaction:
John Paul II will not be the first pope to decompose in public. In August of 1978, the body of Paul VI "took on a greenish tinge," and fans were installed in the Basilica to disperse the smell. Twenty years earlier, a maverick doctor persuaded the Vatican to let him try an experimental embalming technique on the body of Pope Pius XII, with disastrous consequences—the body turned black and disintegrated in the casket. Pope John XXIII, who died in 1963, seems to have been treated better: When his embalmed body was disinterred in 2001, it looked to be in pretty good shape.