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L'Osservatore Romano, the daily newspaper of the Vatican, has launched an online edition available in both Italian and English. It's the paper's first daily presence on the Web in its 150-year history (though digital weekly editions already exist). And L'Osservatore isn't wasting any time getting on board with 21st-century newspaper practices: The Guardian reports that while access is free right now, a paywall is coming in September.

"The price will be very low," L'Osservatore editor Giovanni Maria Vian told The Guardian. And there's no guarantee the Vatican paper's paywall will be accompanied by the level of sturm und drang that greeted the New York Times' move. But still, it's a bold move for a paper that's only just now digitizing.

What's in L'Osservatore Romano, anyway? We were curious, so we took a spin through the April 20 edition. Here's a sampler of what you can find--think of it as our first, and probably only, installment of a new feature: "Trimming L'Osservatore."

  • Here's an April 19 profile of Hermione Speier, a German Jewish archaeologist who came to the Vatican in 1934 to undertake a massive reorganization of the archives--an episode that the L'Osservatore writer, Paolo Vian, calls "a salient step in the affirmation of a feminine presence in the Vatican."
  • Here's an April 20 interview with Cardinal Jozef Tomko, a friend of the late Pope John Paul II. Tomko remembers bonding with the pontiff in 1978 over a book of mountain photographs; in later years, they traveled around the world on missions together.
  • Here's an editorial from Giovanni Maria Vian about how the love of God can act as a spiritual force. "Everything depends on our ability to escape the gravitational field of evil," he writes, "for it is only our consenting to be attracted by God that makes us free."

It should be noted that a lot of these articles don't look like they were written for a general audience; they assume some familiarity with the history and major figures of the church. But if that's your area of interest, this should be a great resource--a great free resource, at least for the next few months.

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