Gearing up for another papal bestseller

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican Publishing House is gearing up to distribute another blockbuster tome — this one the exclusive work of Pope Benedict XVI.

Salesian Father Giuseppe Costa, director of the publishing house, told the Vatican newspaper yesterday, “This morning I sent the text to various editors; the aim is to present it in March.”

Salesian Father Giuseppe Costa (CNS/Carol Glatz)

The book is “Jesus of Nazareth. Part Two. Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection.” And the texts sent out are Vatican-controlled translations into a variety of languages.

The pope’s book could come out just four months after the publication of “Light of the World,” a book-length interview with Pope Benedict conducted by the German journalist Peter Seewald.

Father Costa told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that “Light of the World” probably has sold close to 1 million copies since its late November release. The German edition — the original language — already has sold about 200,000 copies, he said. About 100,000 copies have been sold in Italian and another 100,000 English copies have flown off the shelves. The French edition has sold about 80,000 copies; there also are Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and other editions.

For the new book, he said contracts had been signed with 20 different publishing houses to print and distribute the pope’s work and that five more contracts are in the negotiation stage.

The first volume of Jesus of Nazareth — looking at the period between his baptism and the Transfiguration — was published in 2007; it ran more than 400 pages and highlighted what the Bible says about Jesus, the moral implications of his teachings, and how reading the Scriptures can lead to a real relationship with Jesus.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters last summer that the pope already began writing the third volume, which would look at Jesus’ childhood.

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