Indulgence alert

Seeking an indulgence for remission of sin may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but judging from the Web hits on our story last December on how to gain an indulgence for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions at Lourdes, they certainly remain a popular form of Catholic devotion.

So there’s a new chance for a plenary indulgence in connection with the jubilee year of St. Paul that begins in just over a month. Details are in this story we posted this morning.

Pick a pope calendar

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has just released its 2009 calendar. Well, actually, it’s just released two calendars for 2009.

One features what the newspaper calls “the most beautiful photographs of His Holiness Benedict XVI” — strolling while praying the rosary, kissing babies, kneeling in prayer — and the other, “the most beautiful photographs of John Paul II” — using his cape to play peek-a-boo with a little boy, praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, sitting in his chapel holding a crucifix a few days before he died.

The cover photo and 12 monthly photos in each calendar were taken by the photographers at L’Osservatore Romano, who also serve as the Vatican’s official photographers.

Unlike most things Vatican, the calendar is not multilingual. The months, the days of the week and the name of the saint honored each day are written only in Italian. And, although the calendar is large (about 16 and a half inches by 12 inches), it follows the standard format for Italian wall calendars: there are no boxes for writing in birthdays or appointments, just the date, day of the week and feast running in a long column down the side. 

The calendars cost 5 euros each (about $7.50) plus postage. They can be ordered by sending an e-mail to and specifying which calendar you want to buy. If you do not include a credit card number and expiration date, the newspaper will send you the details for making the payment by way of an international bank transfer — an operation that usually costs much, much more than the price of the calendar. Orders also can be faxed to L’Osservatore’s photo department, but must include credit card information. Dialing from North America, the fax number would be (011 39) 06 6988 4998.