Papal video takes Mass to market

It is a video that warrants a PG certificate. Papal Guidance. Neatly in time for the Easter market, Pope John Paul II has released a video - A Celebration of Mass.

The video is expected to move into the Top Ten next week, and is already ahead of popular culture icons Pamela Anderson of Baywatch and comedian Roy "Chubby" Brown.

One million copies of the video were ordered worldwide, with 50,000 earmarked for the UK and Ireland. Selling for £9.99, and distributed by BMG, it features His Holiness on the cover wearing papal mitre with his hand raised in greeting.

Inside the packaging, a programme note states: "This unique programme invites you to join in the celebration of the Holy Mass with Pope John Paul the Second. Witness the sanctity and ceremonial splendour as The Holy Father offers Mass in some of the world's most spectacular locations."

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said the sales were surprising "because the video is nothing more than the Pope saying Mass. I suppose it is a timely release with it being Easter, when there is a resurgence of religious interest."

Chart compilers will be taking a more secular interest in what could be an unusual treble. If the Easter rush pushes the video to Number One, John Paul II will be unique in the Papacy in having topped the book, record and video charts.

His book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, has sold more than 300,000 copies in Britain in two months - 3 million worldwide. His Holiness and the Vatican were presented with a gold disc of John Paul II's album, the Pope's Rosary, when sales exceeded 150,000, also in two months.

Revitalised Pope, page 10

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