The Italian Almanac

John Paul II

Italian News - November 14

Small pieces of cloth being sold near the Vatican as 'relics' of the ever popular John Paul II are bogus, Catholic Church authorities warned on Thursday. Scraps of material which have allegedly been rubbed against the tomb of the late pontiff are being sold to tourists in at least one souvenir shop.

The scraps of material, encased in a round piece of transparent plastic, are available in three sizes and start at 3 euros each. The same shop is also selling statuettes of the Polish pontiff on which he is described as Saint John Paul II, even though the process expected to lead to his canonisation is still long from over.

The shopkeeper was asked by a journalist on Thursday whether the articles had been approved for sale by the Vatican. He declined to answer. Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the official in charge of John Paul's canonisation process, said that the cloth 'relics' now on sale had definitely not received a green light from either his office or the Rome diocese.

Msgr Oder pointed out that pilgrims and devotees can obtain official John Paul relics free of charge through his office at the diocesan headquarters. The authorised items comprise a small picture of the Polish pope together with a fragment cut out of one of the tunics he wore as pope.