The Deacon's Bench

Looking for a little swag in advance of the pope’s trip to the United Kingdom? The store is open:

Official memorabilia to mark Pope Benedict’s September visit to Britain went on sale this week with a Swarovski bracelet and baseball cap among the more usual souvenir mugs and T-shirts.

Sales are expected to help the local Roman Catholic church cover the costs of the visit, but some worshippers are unhappy at plans to charge to see the Pope at some events.

The first state papal visit to England and Scotland has already attracted controversy over its cost and because of the worldwide child sex abuse scandal involving Catholic priests.

Tens of thousands of the church’s estimated five million followers in Britain are nevertheless expected to attend public events in London, Birmingham and Glasgow, during the four-day visit.

Parishes are showing a keen interest in papal flags to decorate churches, halls and schools, a Roman Catholic spokesman said, but worshippers have the chance to buy a range of items including electronic flashing candles costing three pounds ($4.6), and keyrings and fridge magnets at five pounds each.

Many of the online items feature an image of the pope and the trip’s motto: “Heart Speaks unto Heart.”

You can shop to your heart’s delight at the official website.

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