These coffee mugs are among the souvenirs being sold at the National Shrine to celebrate Pope Benedict's visit to Washington. The bumperstickers are available online at www.popevist2008.com
These coffee mugs are among the souvenirs being sold at the National Shrine to celebrate Pope Benedict's visit to Washington. The bumperstickers are available online at www.popevist2008.com
Those seeking souvenirs and mementos of Pope Benedict XVI's historic visit to Washington can purchase items online or by visiting the gift shop and book store at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Merchandise commemorating Pope Benedict's visit to Washington is available online at www.pope visit2008.com.

"In a special arrangement with the merchandiser, Catholic to the Max, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of these items will benefit Christ Our Hope Foundation, Inc., the organization supporting the Holy Father's visit to Washington," said Susan Gibbs, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Washington.

Catholic to the Max is an on-line supplier of Catholic goods.

Official papal visit merchandise available on the website includes desk plaques, framed portraits of the pope, keychains and dog tags, magnets, clothing, bumper stickers, postcards, posters, coffee mugs, holy cards, and religious items such as rosaries, papal crucifixes and crosses.

While shopping, visitors to www.popevisit2008.com can also access other information available on the site. There is a complete itinerary of the papal visit to Washington and New York, a section on "fun facts" about Pope Benedict - including what his favorite meal is and what kind of pets he has - and links to other sites, including the Vatican, the Archdiocese of Washington, EWTN and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Keepsakes of the papal visit can also be purchased in person at the National Shrine in Northeast Washington. On April 16, Pope Benedict will pray vespers and meet with U.S. bishops in the shrine's Crypt Church. Pope John Paul II also visited the National Shrine during his 1979 visit to the city.

The shrine's gift shop and bookshop have "a huge selection of just about everything, and it all sells well," according to Dennis Zeigler, the manager of the gift shop at National Shrine.

Shrine officials have created a special display of Pope Benedict's writings, including books he wrote while he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

"His new books and his old writings are popular" with customers, Zeigler said, adding that the brisk sales of those books "is a little surprising because they tend to be more studious (kinds) of books."

Zeigler said that offering the wide array of writings by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger "is an opportunity for people to get to know this pope."

He noted that papal merchandise offered at the National Shrine is popular among young Catholics.

"Young people are very interested in this pope because this new generation is not like my generation, which remembers a young Pope John Paul II," Zeigler said. "This new generation is used to having an older pope."

Sales of papal visit items, he said, "have been good." To accommodate the interest in such merchandise, the shrine has crafted a separate kiosk outside the shrine gift shop just to handle Benedict XVI keepsakes.

The kiosk and the gift shop offer T-shirts and polo shirts with the Christ Our Hope logo, statues and three-dimensional photo cut-outs of the pope, bumper stickers, framed portraits, postcards, key chains, Vatican flags, coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets. There are also videos of an interview with then-Cardinal Ratzinger, and a video of his inaugural Mass as pope. Of course, there is also a large selection of religious items.

Among the unique items offered there is a souvenir medallion sculpted by local Catholic artist, Scott Sullivan, whose works have been featured in exhibition at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.

Zeigler said that during Holy Week, most papal merchandise was purchased by local Catholics who visit the National Shrine for religious observances. In the week after Easter, when many schools are on break, Zeigler said that tourists visiting the shrine have been the main purchasers of papal mementos.

Earlier, the archdiocese announced that the first officially sanctioned Washington souvenir for Pope Benedict XVI's visit here is a tiny T-shirt for a teddy bear.

The white T-shirt, imprinted with the "Christ Our Hope" logo created for the papal trip, will be sold only at six Washington-area Build-A-Bear Workshop stores, where customers can design and stuff their own teddy bears, and online at www.buildabear.com (type "pope" in the search bar).

"This is a great way to bring our faith into the secular world and in a family-friendly way," Gibbs said. "It's not often that a parent shopping with her kids can walk into a major mall and buy something that is distinctly Catholic."