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‘Francis effect’ inspires boom in sales of papal merchandise

CafePress sells papal paraphernalia for the whole family, including the dog

Retailers in Britain and America are reporting a boom in sales of Pope Francis T-shirts on the back of the so-called “Francis effect”.

Sales of hooded tops and T-shirts supporting the papacy have shot up by about 20 per cent since the election of the new Holy Father, according to one firm.

Catholics With Attitude, which has offices in London and Glasgow, said its bestselling items were garments bearing quotes from Pope Francis. The strongest selling of all of them carries the words: “Rebel Against This Culture.”

The slogan comes from the Argentine Pontiff’s address at Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the 2013 World Youth Day in July when he effectively called three million young pilgrims to a sexual counter revolution, telling them to reject transient hedonism for the commitment of marriage and family life.

“I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, I ask you to swim against the tide,” he said at the time. “Yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you are incapable of true love.”

Barry Flynn, spokesman for Catholics With Attitude, said many young Catholics were following Francis’s quotes on social media.

“We are hearing quotes from the Pope all the time,” he said. “The Pope is grabbing their interest and people are listening to what he has to say.”

He said that sales of T-shirts bearing Benedict XVI’s quotes – most notably “Truth is not Subject to a Majority Vote” – remained buoyant and that sales in garments celebrating Blessed Pope John Paul II were picking up ahead of his forthcoming canonisation later this year.

“The momentum is there with the election of the new Holy Father and the things he has brought to the ministry,” he said.

“Obviously, Pope Francis is still the strongest seller,” he continued, “but there is a great fondness and affection for papal merchandise in general.”

The popularity of Pope Francis garments in Britain is reflected around the world, particularly in America, where sales in papal merchandise have more than doubled in some cases.

One company, California-based CafePress, is printing Francis’s image, coat of arms and quotes on a vast range of products, including pink Pope Francis “onesies” which it sells for £48 each.

The usual calendars, T-shirts, keyrings, mugs and baseball caps are selling well but demand for Pope Francis goods is so strong that Catholics can now buy papal hoodies even for their dogs.

Pope Francis underpants are available in a range of designs and the market has also seen the emergence of Pope Francis cocktail shakers, wine chillers, beer steins and shot glasses – not omitting, of course, a range of papal coasters on which to sit them.

There are also Pope Francis aprons, duvets, toiletry bags, mouse mats, iPad and Kindle sleeves, luggage tags, tealight candles, sweatshirts, baby bodysuits, flasks, pyjamas, biscuit jars, coffee trays, earrings, cufflinks, wall clocks, jigsaws and dolls.