Vatican City

Religious icon sellers rest hopes on foreign pope

Non-EU pontiff much more appealing to customers, they say

Religious icon sellers rest hopes on foreign pope

Vatican City, March 12 - Religious souvenir sellers in and around the Vatican are hoping for the election of a non-Italian and non-European pope as successor to Benedict XVI on grounds that this would improve sales. Business has been down over the last few days as the faithful and tourists are waiting to find out who will be the next pope before making purchases, they said. New souvenirs - rosaries, medals, key rings, candles and other religious items - carrying the image of the new pope should be available within a maximum of 48 hours from his election at the conclave starting Tuesday afternoon. Printed souvenirs such as calendars could take a few more days to arrive due to the greater length of the printing process. Over and above the provenance of the next pope, the souvenir sellers hope he is similar in character to the late John Paul II, Benedict XVI's predecessor, whose image remains the most popular in terms of demand. However they admit Benedict XVI has made a "slight comeback" in sales since his shock abdication due to diminishing physical and mental strength at the end of last month.

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