By Jeffrey Weiss, special to CNN
(CNN) – Nelson Mandela belongs to the ages whether he lives another hour, day or decade.
But in what may well be his final days, he’s focusing attention on a modern and yet very old question: When medical treatment can extend life interminably, what's the right thing to ask of doctors – or of the Almighty?
Few outside Mandela’s inner circle know the South African icon’s exact condition and treatment. Family members said last week that he had stopped speaking but was responding to voices. Officials have said he’s battling a lung infection, but they haven’t released much information beyond that.
What we do know is how Mandela’s countrymen have responded to what could be his last illness. More often than not, that response has included public prayer, vigils and hymns.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.