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University of Iowa News Release

April 20, 2005

Historian To Speak On Papal Succession May 9 At UI

On the heels of his turn in the media spotlight, one of the nation's foremost experts on papal elections will speak at the University of Iowa on Monday, May 9. Frederic J. Baumgartner, a professor of history at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), will speak on "Revealing Secrets of Papal Elections," at 2 p.m. in the Minnesota Room (347) of the Iowa Memorial Union. The lecture, followed by a panel discussion, is free and open to the public.

The author of "Behind Locked Doors: A History of Papal Elections" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), Baumgartner has been widely consulted to explain the process of papal succession since the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2. He is coming to the UI as the keynote speaker for the annual Adler Luncheon hosted by the Department of Religious Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"Baumgartner's visit to Iowa City could not come at a more appropriate moment," said Raymond Mentzer, religious studies department chairman. "He is the reigning authority on the time-honored traditions surrounding papal elections. His remarks and insights will help us to understand better the meaning of the events that we have watched unfold over the past several weeks."

"Behind Locked Doors" illustrates the intrigue that goes on behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel after a pope dies and when the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church convene in the Vatican City to elect a successor. Baumgartner is past president of the American Catholic Historical Association.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,