Surge of Traffic Slows Vatican Web Site

The Vatican web site is struggling to handle a surge in web visitors seeking information on the deteriorating health of Pope John Paul II. Late last night Vatican officials announced that the 84-year-old Pontiff had suffered "septic shock and cardio-circulatory collapse" after receiving last rites earlier in the day.

Since its launch in 1995, the Vatican web site has become an important source of information about the Roman Catholic Church, and is available in six languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese). The Vatican has had a lengthy technology partnership with Hewlett-Packard, which provides infrastructure to help the Holy See scale its web operations, which run on a Compaq Tru64 operating system. But with more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide, the site is likely to struggle while the Pope's condition remains the focus of attention.

A dynamically updating chart of the availability of is available here.