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Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk on The Vatican—Season 266

Book Cover The Wolves of St. Peters

The authors of The Wolves of St. Peter's on the Vatican's dramatic appeal.

As the recent papal conclave showed, the Vatican knows how to put on a good show. The suspense was nail-biting, and not just for Catholics. It seemed like everyone was glued to their TV sets and computer screens. The secrecy: Turn off those twitter feeds! The ancient rituals: White smoke or black? The speculation: Canadian, African, or Italian? But as much as we wanted to know who the next Pope would be, we didn’t want the show to end. It was Survivor Vatican and we were hooked.

The outgoing Pope Benedict XVI insisted he timed his departure so we’d have a new Pope for Easter—but we have to wonder if the Vatican made a deal with Showtime to fit the conclave in before the start of the third season of their hit series The Borgias. It would have been a terrible dilemma to have to choose between these two shows: “Tonight should we watch The Borgias—Season 3 or The Vatican—Season 266?” Maybe we would confuse the two as the sets and costumes (and some of the attitudes) haven’t changed much in 500 years.

Is this what continues to fascinate us and so many others about the Vatican? This sense of it as not-quite real, a theatre piece or historical drama up there with the best cable has t …

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