Eric J. Lyman
The Italian government is on high alert after threats from the Islamic State called Italy "the nation signed with the blood of the cross."
Italy is one of a handful of major Western counties that has not been victim of a large-scale terror assault since the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.
Italian officials fear extremists could enter the country amid the growing tide of refugees arriving by boat from North Africa. About 500 extra troops have been stationed to guard symbolic targets in Rome and monitor the streets of the capital for suspicious activity.
Pope Francis met Friday in a closed-door meeting with the German churchman known as "Bishop Bling," Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, whose extravagant and expensive lifestyle cost him his job.
Tebartz-van Elst, 54, spent more than $40 million of church money renovating his home in Limburg, Germany. He became a worldwide phenomenon, in part because his lifestyle clashed so sharply with that of Francis, known for living in spartan and humble surroundings and for preaching restraint and austerity.
A sting inside Vatican City aimed at nabbing the mystery buyer of more than $55,000 in cocaine that was hidden inside 14 condoms was foiled.
Russell Crowe, who plays the title character in the new Hollywood blockbuster "Noah," lobbied hard for a personal audience with Pope Francis. What he got Wednesday instead was a blessing.
Crowe used social media in recent weeks to try to cajole Francis to watch "Noah," which has drawn fire from religious groups that say the film takes too many liberties with the biblical story of Noah's Ark and the great flood. Crowe also asked for a private audience with the pontiff.