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4,000 cubic meters of rock fell from nearby cliff

Topless Christmas Day Femen protest in Cologne Cathedral slammed as ‘unnecessary disturbance’

Germany’s left-wing Green Party among those criticising anti-Catholic demonstration as ‘disrespectful’

Papal blessing: Nothing can excuse the failures of the modern Catholic Church. But Pope Francis has made an impressive start

Francis has thrown open the Vatican windows and let in fresh air

Papal blessing: Nothing can excuse the failures of the modern Catholic Church. But Pope Francis has made an impressive start

Francis has thrown open the Vatican windows and let in fresh air

Facebook and Twitter top twenty: The Independent stories you've been sharing this year

From drunken nights out with a llama to testicle-eating fishes, it’s a mixed bag of stories you’ve been sharing on social media in 2013.

Among the top twenty Independent articles you’ve been tweeting and posting on Facebook this year, there are serious reports, ferocious comment pieces, astounding research and a fair few articles that pay tribute to the adage ‘the truth is stranger than fiction.’

Swiss guards have protected the Papal Palace since the 15th century. Now a crack corp including KPMG has been charged with 'cutting through the complexity' of a corrupt Roman Curia

Pope turns to management consultants in bid to reform Vatican

Francis has broken with tradition by drafting in an army of secular experts to transform the Vatican’s management.  But will this radical approach help him achieve his goal of a ‘poor Church for the poor’?

Pope Francis gives Christmas presents to 2,000 immigrants

Pope had gift packages delivered to the Dono di Maria homeless shelter in Rome

Who said it: Joseph Stalin or Oliver Cromwell?

Vladimir Putin has compared Joseph Stalin with 17th century Roundhead leader Oliver Cromwell, saying there was no difference between the two men.

The Pope has given his support to breastfeeding in public

Pope Francis encourages mother to breast-feed in public

During an interview with an Italian newspaper, the Jesuit Pope used breastfeeding as an analogy for feeding humanity

Happy brithday to Pope Francis, who has once again been named Person of the Year, this time by a leading lifestyle magazine that actively promotes gay rights.

Pope Francis named ‘Person of the Year’ by leading gay rights magazine

The religious leader is the December coverstar of The Advocate magazine, on which he appears with a photoshopped tattoo on his cheek

Pope Francis has been forced to defend recent policies and comments which have angered conservatives

Pope Francis says he’s not a Marxist – but knows lots of good people who are

Pontiff defends his policies against conservative criticism that he is going ‘beyond Catholicism’

Pope Francis named Time Magazine's person of the Year: The new spiritual leader on the block

The award recognises impact, not ethics. But in the Pope's case, we have a voice reminding us of tenderness, mercy and compassion

Pope Francis says he owes his life to a group of nuns who worked in a hospital whilst he was suffering from a recurring lung problem

Pope Francis reveals how a nun saved his life when he was just 21

Incident occurred whilst the pontiff was in hospital due to a lung problem

'Thou shalt not wear trainers!' - Pope Francis reveals he worked as a bouncer in Buenos Aires

During an informal chat with followers the 266th Pope revealed that as student he worked in a bar and did some work as a bouncer

No pope has ever definitively declared the fragments to belong to the Apostle Peter

Are they relics of St Peter? The Vatican says it doesn’t matter

Bones discovered under basilica in 1939 exhibited in public for first time

Fighting turns sectarian as militias battle rebels in Central African Republic

About 2,000 people have sought refuge in a Catholic mission after heavy fighting broke out in the volatile north-west, aid workers said.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
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Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
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Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable