Spain    PAPAL SKULL TAKEN FROM MUSEUM
The skull of a 14th-century pope has been stolen from a museum in Spain, police said on Tuesday.
   They declined to give details but a newspaper said the skull and the urn holding it vanished Friday from a palace in the town of Sabinan in the northeast Aragon region.
   The palace security guard called police after noticing a back door open, the Heraldo de Aragon newspaper reported.
   The skull was that of Pope Benedict XIII, a Spaniard from Aragon who sat during a tumultuous time for the Catholic Church, that of the Great Schism. During this split from 1378-1417, there were two and later three rival popes, each with their own following and cardinals.
   At one stage in the conflict, one pope ruled from Avignon, France and another from the Vatican in Rome.
   Benedict XIII, who sided with the Avignon faction, became pope in 1394. He was later declared a heretic for refusing to step down after Alexander V was elected as a third pope in an effort to end rivalry between the first two pontiffs.
   Benedict XIII died in a castle on the southeast coast of Spain in 1423 at the age of 95. Over the centuries the rest of his remains were lost, leaving only the skull.
   
AP
13/4/00

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