SEDE VACANTE 1958 – 2008
Reflections on a 50-Year Vacancy of the Apostolic See
Fifty years ago, around 3:50 am local time on October 9, 1958, His Holiness Pope Pius XII drew his last breath in Rome. At that time, most Catholics surely viewed this as simply an ordinary death of yet another Pope, and though lamentable, a new Pope would surely follow soon, and all would be well.
The last 50 years have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that such was not the case. At first, everything seemed to go the usual way. The deceased Pope received a solemn funeral, and a conclave to elect his successor was scheduled for October 25.