Pope's bones survive earthquake

April 9, 2009 at 2:57 PM

L'AQUILA, Italy, April 9 (UPI) -- The bones of one of the Catholic Church's most enigmatic popes survived the Italian earthquake and were taken Thursday from the church where he was buried.

St. Celestine V's bones will be stored safely while the Basilica di Collemaggio in L'Aquila, which was damaged in the quake, is repaired, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

''It's another great miracle by the pope,'' said Fabio Carapezza Guttuso, head of the country's Heritage Security Commission, of the survival of Celestine's earthly remains.

Celestine, the last pontiff not chosen by a conclave, was proclaimed pope in 1294 in L'Aquila. Five months later, he resigned his office.

The pope hoped to spend the rest of his life as a hermit. His successor, Boniface VIII, instead imprisoned him in a castle where he died within a year, ANSA reported.

The poet Dante, who despised Boniface, blamed Celestine in "The Inferno" for his "great refusal" of responsibility. But Celestine has been admired by many for his virtue.

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