On August 28, Francis will visit the Aquila and the tomb of Celestine V – the first pope to resign in the 13th century, which may be significant
The question of whether there will be three living Popesan unprecedented event, “hovers” over the Vatican, as the rumor erupts that Francis is considering his resignation.
The pope fueled speculation that he might resign after postponing a trip to Africa and announcing an emergency conference of cardinals.
Suffering from knee pain and being forced to use a wheelchair in recent weeks, the 85-year-old Pope last week postponed one scheduled for July travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
He also announced an unusual decision to hold a conference to ordain new cardinals during a month-long holiday at the Vatican and arranged meetings to ensure his reforms remain intact.
The special conference will be held on August 27 to ordain 21 new cardinals – 16 of whom will be under the age of 80, making them eligible to elect a successor to a future conclave.
Since becoming Pope in 2013, the Argentine Pope has ordained 83 cardinals in the context of moves to shape the future of the Catholic Church.
On August 28, Francis will visit the Aquila and the tomb of Celestine V – the first pope to resign in the 13th century after just five months in the papacy, which may be significant. It is noted that Pope Benedict XVI, who became the first Pope to resign almost 600 years after 2013, had also visited the tomb of Celestine ED in 2009.
The resignation of a pope was once almost unthinkable, until Benedict resigned in 2013, citing his declining physical and mental health.
In 2014, a year after his election as Benedict’s successor, Francis himself told reporters that if his health prevented him from serving as pope, he would also consider resigning. “He (Benedict) opened a door for resigned Popes” mentioned characteristically then the Pope.
Most recently in May, according to various Italian media, Francis joked about his knee during a closed-door meeting with bishops saying: “Instead of surgery, I will resign.”
But experts at the Vatican do not believe that Francis is still on the verge of handing over the “papal keys”. A source told AFP: “In the Pope’s circle, the majority do not really believe in the possibility of resignation.”