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The weird and wonderful souvenirs for Pope visit

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 16 September 2010

The Pope's visit to Britain has inspired a wide range of memorabilia.  Channel 4 News has been speaking to one online Christian writer who is taking an alternative look at what is on offer.

Benny beer is one of the more unusual items for sale

There is an air of anticipation around Westminster Cathedral ahead of the Pope's visit.

The streets are being cleaned, the signs are going up and the merchandise is on sale. Both official and unofficial.

The Catholic Church is selling an array of memorabilia for the papal visit.

A baseball cap to commemorate the occasion costs £18, or for £20 pilgrims have the option to customise their own t-shirt with the name of their church.

Westminster Cathedral's gift shop is stocking specially made plates, photos, books and candles.

But there are also plenty of bizarre souvenirs including Benny beer, a 'Popener' bottle opener, a Vatican city lighter and a mini-popemobile.

Simon Jenkins edits an online Christian magazine which has compiled a special 'picnic with the pontiff' feature marking the Pope's visit.

He told Channel 4 News about the more unusual souvenirs: "Make sure you wear your I love my German shepherd t-shirt, make sure you keep on time with your Pope Pius clock..or maybe if you're critical of the Pope you'd like to wear your 'Pope Nope' t-shirt.

"I thought the official merchandise was pretty dull, the most interesting bit is a candle which lights up and I thought that would be really nice to hold afloat at the end of the papal concert..otherwise it was pretty tedious and dull, I mean there was a plate. That's not great, not for young people anyway.

Electronic flashing candles, silicone wristbands and Swarovski bracelets are some of the other surprising official memorabilia which can be bought.

Simon says his 'picnic with the pontiff' feature is meant to be ironic: "Faith has got its lighter side and it's important for people to be able to laugh at their faith because when you think about what people are doing when they're religious a lot of it can be seen as quite funny. 

"I know this is really serious stuff for some people but you've got to have a lighter side I think."

The Catholic Church has rejected claims the papal visit is being commercialised.

"If you've got a good message, and I think we have, there's no harm in marketing it in the very best possible way.

"We want to get as many people as possible to listen to the Pope's message, not just specifically members of our Roman Catholic Church," Cardinal Keith O'Brien said.

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