Normally, when you think a guy might be dead but you’re not sure, you can hold a mirror up to his nose to see if he’s breathing or check his pulse at the wrist or jugular. But it’s probably easier just to shake him and shout his name at him over and over until he wishes he were dead. It’s not so simple with a pope. Especially this current pope, who’s looked dead for a year. The ritual, reported today on Yahoo, includes this nugget:
The camerlengo, now Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo of Spain, must then verify the death – a process which in the past was done by striking the forehead of the pope with a silver hammer.