The pope’s upcoming trip now has an official souvenir.

From a sidebar in USA Today:

The first officially announced souvenir for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit is a tiny T-shirt for a teddy bear, says Archdiocese of Washington spokeswoman Susan Gibbs. The shirt will be sold only at six Washington, D.C.-area Build-A-Bear Workshop stores. “It’s cute. It’s fun. It brings the Holy Father into secular culture and lets parents go into a family-friendly store and do something related to their faith,” Gibbs says.

A bear to wear the shirt costs $10 to $20. The Christ Our Hope logo T-shirt costs $6, and a portion of the shirt sales will help pay for the pope’s trip.

UPDATE: A reader in Quebec expressed amazement that such a cuddly creature would be picked for, in his words, “the unflinching Inquisitor.”

But a little research reveals that the venerable bear has appeared before in connection with the pontiff — most notably, on his coat-of-arms.

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