The moment Pope Francis I stepped out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on Wednesday, vendors of all things papal went into overdrive to manufacture prayer cards, keychains, mugs, t-shirts and other pope-related souvenirs.
On Wednesday, following a puff of white smoke from the Vatican, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was presented to the world as the new leader of the Catholic church. Less than a hour after the announcement was made, prayer card manufacturers and sellers were gearing up to start pedaling goods emblazoned with images of the new pontiff.
“It’s like when someone wins a championship series,” Tom Heldridge, owner of Adoremus Books, a Catholic bookstore in Omaha, Neb., told The Huffington Post. “You have to get something printed with the new thing.”
The nation’s largest manufacturer of Catholic goods, the Ohio-based Nelson Gifts, said it would print images of the new Pope Francis onto prayer cards starting Wednesday evening. Also known as holy cards, the small, playing-card sized pictures are mass-produced and are generally sold for around $1. They typically depict a holy image on one side of the card and a prayer on the reverse.