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Witnessing papal history changes with digital age

Luca Bruno / AP

The faithful gather in 2005 near St. Peter's to witness Pope John Paul II's body being carried into the Basilica for public viewing.

Michael Sohn / AP

St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, on March 13, 2013.

By Carlo Dellaverson, NBC News

In 2005, visitors packed into the expansive boulevard leading up to St. Peter’s Square as Pope John Paul II’s body was carried into the crowd for public viewing in the days following his death. Taken nearly two years before the iPhone debuted, the photo is striking now for its appearance straight out of another era.

For anyone who has ever been to a concert, the photo at bottom, taken Tuesday night as Pope Francis made his inaugural appearance on the Vatican balcony, seems almost ordinary. The two, taken together, reflect a world changing, even as some ancient traditions stay the same.

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