Papal blessing parchments, which are bought to mark marriages, baptisms, ordinations and first Communions, will soon be available for purchase only from the Vatican after a crackdown on shops selling them.
Until now, shops close to the Vatican have sold the scrolls blessed by the Pope to tourists and pilgrims for anywhere between €10 and €50 (£8 and £40), with only €3 (£2.40) going to the Office of Papal Charities. But from January the shops will be prohibited from selling the parchments.
Papal almoner Archbishop Kondrad Krajewski explained that the office needed the proceeds from donations for the blessings in order to carry out its charitable work on behalf of Pope Francis.
In future the parchments will be available from the office via the website Elemosineria.va. The Office of Papal Charities is known in Italian as the Elemosineria Apostolica. It website points out that “the granting of the papal blessing is absolutely free and that the payment requested is only a contribution towards the cost of the parchment and to defray the expenses of wrapping and postage”.
It adds: “All money paid to the Elemosineria Apostolica for blessing is used for the Holy Father’s works of charity.”
Archbishop Krajewski said that last September Pope Francis gave apostolic nuncios around world the right to grant papal blessings on parchment paper.
He also said that the changes in January would not affect the 12 staff members of the office and the 17 outside calligraphers who produce the blessings.
Leo XIII was the first pope to delegate the right to grant papal blessings on parchment to the almoner. The role of papal almoner dates back at least 800 years.
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