Aside from the business of choosing the pope’s successor, Benedict XVI’s departure presents a business opportunity to the Vatican’s stores selling papal memorabilia.
One shop visited by euronews was not selling items that could be described as top of the range: typical prices for calendars, mugs, small pictures and rosary beads ranged from 25 cents to five euros. Trade was brisk.
“I bought some postcards as well as this,” said one woman from Germany, indicating a large calendar. “I want to bring a present home. We’re from the same village where Pope Benedict was born.”
“We hope after a year of crisis – because 2012 was a year of crisis – to have a rise in sales,” said a male shop owner.
There is some evidence that the change of era has brought increased demand for souvenirs. Even as far away as Scotland one trader said he sold 50 Benedict mugs via the internet over the past fortnight, to places all over the world.
However it is thought that only the rarest items will have a lasting value, even though Pope Benedict is the first pontiff to stand down in 600 years.
Another shop owner in the Vatican said: “During the day people mainly buy souvenirs of the Pope. Above all religious objects, small medals, pictures of him. People want to have a historical record. They want to have some souvenirs of this Pope at home. Something of what he left behind.”
Euronews’ correspondent Manuela Scarpellini in Rome said: “It’s not only about religion in the Vatican. For shops and traders the Pope’s resignation and the forthcoming conclave are a chance to revive business.”