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New pope memorabilia for auction on eBay
Online hawkers rush to auction charms, signed photographs of newly elected Pope Benedict XVI.
April 19, 2005: 5:57 PM EDT
By David Ellis, staff writer
One of the items up for auction on Ebay, only hours after the new pope was elected.
One of the items up for auction on Ebay, only hours after the new pope was elected.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Tuesday's announcement of a new pope could usher in a new era in the Roman Catholic Church -- and a business opportunity for online vendors already racing to sell fridge magnets, prayer cards and clocks bearing the likeness of Pope Benedict XVI.

Since the announcement that the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger will be the 265th pope of the Catholic Church came at 11:50 a.m. ET, auction sites such as eBay have started featuring items bearing his name or signature.

Ebay already has at least 68 items up for sale, with one seller asking $2,499 for an autographed photo of Ratzinger taken in 1978.

"It was almost immediate that we started to see Pope Benedict items and memorabilia come onto the site," said Hani Durzy, a spokesman for eBay, which is located in San Jose, California. "Right now, much of the world's attention is on Pope Benedict and so it is not a surprise for us to see numerous Pope Benedict listings on the site."

Durzy, whose company witnessed approximately 10,000 items posted following the death of Pope John Paul II, could not say whether the new pope would match his predecessor.

Not all pope-related merchandise bears such a hefty price tag, and the offerings range from reverent to camp. As of Tuesday afternoon, a few clicks of the mouse could net shoppers a Ratzinger fridge magnet for $1.99, a "Pope Joseph Ratzinger" custom Italian charm for $6.99 or a prayer card with the pontiff's arms outstretched for $1.19.

The items receiving the most bids so far appear to be photographs with Ratzinger's autograph and books he has authored.

Once the archbishop of Munich, Germany, Ratzinger, 78, was already one of the most powerful men in the Vatican before his election, and is widely acknowledged as a leading theologian.  Top of page

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