When Benedict XVI stepped down as head of the Catholic Church on Monday, the world’s news watchers found out about it within a few hours. The same couldn’t be said the last time a living pope left the position, since it was 600 years ago. Considering how news traveled in the Middle Ages, The Atlantic takes a look at Europe’s original mass media — Mass. Medievalists believe that news of Pope Gregory XII’s abdication would have taken a week to get to major cities like Paris, owing to the high latency of horseback mail delivery systems.