by David Sisler

With the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, I would like to rewrite President George W. Bush’s remarks on the death of Pope John Paul II.

When the Pontiff died on April 2, the President said, “The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home.”

If he had asked me, I would have told Mr. Bush to add, “And the slimey, greedy-guts of the world have gained a merchandising opportunity.”

This one is going to be big, folks. It will make the outpouring of money following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, look like chump change.

As black smoke curls up from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, money is flowing into the bank accounts of entrepreneurs. The late Pope was barely in his coffin before the coffers began to fill. Google gave 740,000 hits for the search line “Pope John Paul II Memorabilia.”

The “world’s first official memorial coin set” is available for $19.95, plus shipping and handling. If you buy five, you get one free, but hurry! Supplies of these coins honoring the late shepherd are limited (to the fleeceable).

Shortly after his death, John Paul II souvenirs numbered over 12,000 on eBay. Now they are down to about 5,000. I guess folks are gobbling up the goodies.

If coins aren’t your thing, if you would like something a little more substantial, and well, memorable to memorialize the Pope, maybe you’d go for a John Paul II collectible bobble-head doll, or a piece of toasted bread that “bears the miraculous image of the Pope.” The bid on Pope-Toast started at $930.

That doesn’t appeal to you? Well, how about crucifixes; papal pins, buttons and flags; rosaries, chains and pendants; commemorative plates and cups, mugs and serving bowls; ticket stubs and passes from papal appearances; framed front pages of newspapers and magazines from the day the Pope was elected and the day he died, posters, plaques and other wall hangings; stamps; busts; paperweights; thimbles; bookmarks; spoons; a Marvel comic book on the life of the Pope; refrigerator magnets; calendars; umbrellas; or a T-shirt that reads “The Pope is my Homeboy.”

Nothing makes you genuflect yet?

Okay. In my search for the very best, you may be interested in a piece of the carpet which John Paul II blessed while he was in Wales in 1982. This one is authenticated by the Archbishop of Cardiff.

An eBayer named David (no relation to your humble scribe) is selling a three bottle pack of wine that was given to him as a gift by Bob Gallo, son of Julio Gallo, in appreciation for the work David did in getting Papal wine delivered for the Pontiff’s visit to Los Angeles in 1987. It was a nice gift, but now he sees it as a chance to provide a tremendous tribute for your collection. And to make a buck for himself. As Tom Lehrer sang about Christmas, “Sentiment will not endear it. What’s important is the price!”

One last try then – an “Idyllic John Paul II Holy Water Font.” What makes this one worth bidding on is the description by the seller: “An unwanted gift from a friend.” If you care enough about Pope John Paul II to buy something to memorialize him in your life, give me your money for this trinket that I don’t want!

As much as I fault the gluttonous for selling this stuff, I fault the unappeasable who create a market for it. If you want to honor the life and work of John Paul II, give your life to the Savior he served. The price for your salvation has already been paid in full. Including shipping and handling.


Copyright 2005 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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