Belfast Telegraph

Pope merchandise proves popular ahead of pontiff’s visit

Hundreds of stall holders have set up shop at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin to sell their wares to thousands of visitors.

Dublin is in the grip of Pope merchandise mania as the country gears up for the pontiff’s visit to Ireland this weekend.

Irish-based businesses have set up next to sellers from places as far away as Bethlehem and Belarus, offering everything from candelabras to priest vestments and alter wine tasting to thirsty pilgrims.

Pope Francis’s image can be seen branded on T-shirts, rosary beads, Bibles, children’s storybooks, priest vestments, candles, jewellery boxes, bags, glasses, cups and other merchandise.

Hundreds of stall holders have descended on the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) for the World Meeting of Families to sell their wares to thousands of visitors attending from all over the world.

One of the most popular stalls on Wednesday was the Pope doll stall.

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Limited edition Pope dolls for sale during the World Meeting of Families (Brian Lawless/PA)

The dolls, which retail at 35 euro, are manufactured in Spain and were brought to Ireland from Germany.

Olivier Brady, who mans the stall, says he was surprised at how popular the figurines are across all age ranges.

“They’ve been on quite a journey already to get to Dublin, and it was worth it as they’re really popular.

“They’re limited edition, as only 10,000 have been made, so people have been keen to get them.

“We thought it would be mostly older people buying them for grandchildren and things like that, but we’ve had people of all ages buying them, from teenagers to pensioners.

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The Pope dolls are proving popular among buyers (Brian Lawless/PA)

“As they’re limited I’m sure they will be a collector’s item very soon.”

Afif Khader travelled from Bethlehem to sell his olive wood carvings.

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Afif Khader, from Bethlehem, displays some of his crafts (Brian Lawless/PA)

This particular carving skill from the Holy Land dates back to the fourth century and has been passed from generation to generation.

Holy Land Crafters carve nativity scenes, crucifixes, religious statuettes and busts costing from 10 euro up to more than 200.

This year’s World Meeting of Families is Mr Khader’s first, as he usually sells his group crafts in local churches.

“I’m really happy to be here and show and sell our carvings to the Irish people, they’re very popular, people really like them,” he said.

St Killian’s Church Shrine and Supply Sales from Cahir, Co Tipperary, is the only alter wine supplier in Ireland, and it was offering testers to interested visitors.

Eugene Kilbride, from the supplier, said people have been interested in learning about the wine, which is produced in Spain and has an alcohol content of 15%.

“We sell red and white alter wine, mostly to churches, but sometimes priests will buy a bottle for their retired colleagues and things like that.

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Eugene Kilbride, of St Killians International, displays some of his products (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We’re the only candelabra producer in Ireland too, everything in the candelabras are Irish-made, through Irish jobs, with a new design and smokeless candles which are better for newer churches.”

Missionaries and charities from across the globe also hosted stalls for visitors to learn about the work Catholic charities do abroad.

Counselling, marriage services, mindfulness apps and alcohol and offender outreach stands could all be accessed by those interested.

The WMOF will culminate with the closing papal mass in Phoenix Park on Sunday.

More than 37,000 people from 116 countries are expected to attend the RDS for a series of events as part of the Catholic festival.

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