Nick Benson

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Pope merchandise proves popular ahead of pontiff’s visit

Dublin is in the grip of pope merchandise mania as the country gears up for the pontiff’s visit to Ireland this weekend.

Irish-based businesses have set up next to sellers from places as far away as Bethlehem and Belarus, offering everything from candelabras to priest vestments and wine tasting to thirsty pilgrims.

Pope Francis’ image can be seen branded on t-shirts, rosary beads, Bibles, children’s storybooks, priest vestments, candles, jewellery boxes, bags, glasses, cups and other merchandise.

Hundreds of stall holders have descended on the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) for the World Meeting of Families to sell their wares to thousands of visitors attending from all over the world.

One of the most popular stalls so far is the pope doll stall.

The dolls, which retail at 35 euro, are manufactured in Spain and were brought to Ireland from Germany.

Olivier Brady, who mans the stall, says he was surprised at how popular the figurines are across all age ranges.

“They’ve been on quite a journey already to get to Dublin, and it was worth it as they’re really popular.

“They’re limited edition, as only 10,000 have been made, so people have been keen to get them.

“We thought it would be mostly older people buying them for grandchildren and things like that, but we’ve had people of all ages buying them, from teenagers to pensioners.

“As they’re limited I’m sure they will be a collector’s item very soon.”

Afif Khader travelled from Bethlehem to sell his olive wood carvings.

This particular carving skill from the Holy Land dates back to the fourth century and has been passed from generation to generation.

Holy Land Crafters carve nativity scenes, crucifixes, religious statuettes and busts costing from 10 euro up to more than 200.

This year’s World Meeting of Families is Mr Khader’s first, as he usually sells his group crafts in local churches.

“I’m really happy to be here and show and sell our carvings to the Irish people, they’re very popular, people really like them,” he said.

St Killian’s Church Shrine and Supply Sales from Cahir, Co Tipperary, is the only altar wine supplier in Ireland, and it was offering testers to interested visitors.

Eugene Kilbride, from the supplier, said people have been interested in learning about the wine, which is produced in Spain and has an alcohol content of 15 per cent.

“We sell red and white altar wine, mostly to churches, but sometimes priests will buy a bottle for their retired colleagues and things like that.

“We’re the only candelabra producer in Ireland too, everything in the candelabras are Irish-made, through Irish jobs, with a new design and smokeless candles which are better for newer churches.”

Missionaries and charities from across the globe also hosted stalls for visitors to learn about the work Catholic charities do abroad.

Counselling, marriage services, mindfulness apps and alcohol and offender outreach stands could all be accessed by those interested.

The WMOF will culminate with the closing papal Mass in Phoenix Park on Sunday.

More than 37,000 people from 116 countries are expected to attend the RDS for a series of events as part of the Catholic festival.

Picture: Limited edition pope dolls for sale during the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. (Brian Lawless/PA).

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OTHER NEWS

JOIN US FOR THE RE-DEDICATION EVENT -WATCH OUR LIVESTREAM BELOW AT NOON

THE REDEDICATION In 1381, England was dedicated to Mary by King Richard II and was 'set apart for her among the nations. This year, the Christians of England are called to make a personal dedication to Mary, taking up her example as Christ’s first disciple. History...

Prayers to say for the rededication of England as Mary’s Dowry

At noon today (Sunday, 29 March), England will be rededicated as the Dowry of Mary. While celebrations have been scaled back for obvious reasons, Catholics can still make join in at home by saying the prayers below. You can say the prayers at any time of day, although...

Online Mass and CAFOD are helping fill the holes left in our Sundays

With the coronavirus pandemic causing Masses across the country to be cancelled, there is now a large demand for virtual worship – and Catholic charity CAFOD hopes its weekly ‘Children’s Liturgy Live!’ will inspire families across the UK after the first session saw...

Catholic Churches in Europe opened to fight COVID-19

Catholic dioceses and religious orders across Europe are offering to turn church facilities into spaces needed for health care or housing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Church leaders throughout Europe have been struggling to maintain Catholic religious devotions...

CAFOD takes its activities online as world stays home

With the onset of the coronavirus leaving many spending more time inside, organisations have swung into action moving their activities online, including UK charity CAFOD, which hopes its digital events and resources will unite international communities. The Covid-19...