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South African military and police helicopters fly past a 30-foot-tal) bronze statue of the late former President Nelson Mandela after it was unveiled as part of the Day of Reconciliation Celebrations at the Union Buildings in Pretoria Dec. 16. Mandela’s death at age 95 was the No. 6 religion story of the year as voted on by religion writers. (Reuters)

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Election, resignation of pope lead 2013's religion stories

The Vatican was at the center of the top2 religion stories of the year

As the year came to a close, it appeared Pope Francis' attention was increasingly focused on the persecution of believers around the world, especially endangered Christian minorities in Egypt, Syria and throughout the Middle East.

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