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ROME – The world’s largest gathering of medieval buffs is set to take place in Rome next week when thousands of enthusiasts flock to St. Peter’s Square for a celebration of pre-enlightenment thinking and old-world religious teaching. Billed as the preeminent get-together for morality junkies, antiquity nuts and “true goths”, VatiCon 2013 will kick off with a vote to find the next “Pope”, a tradition that goes back to the first VatiCon almost two millennia ago.
While VatiCon is far bigger than rival conventions, attendees eschew the chance to dress up as their favourite medieval figures, leaving it to festival higher-ups and VIPs to don the flamboyant attire of days gone by. Yet VatiCon fans count themselves amongst the most hard-core of enthusiasts, passionately upholding quirky antiquarian customs such as clerical celibacy, patriarchy, bans on masturbation, contraception and abortion, belief in papal infallibility and the clerical exclusion of women. VatiCon also comprises one of the world’s largest fan networks, with over 1.2 billion enthusiasts of pre-enlightenment decrees from ancient days of yore.