Need a blessing? Send an email to St. Rose of Lima

By Barbara Fraser

LIMA, Peru — The first saint to be canonized in the Americas may also be the first to have her own email address.

The courtyard beside the Church of St. Rose of Lima in the heart of the Peruvian capital draws thousands of pilgrims each Aug. 30, when the country celebrates the feast of its patron saint. Besides visiting her austere bedroom and the tiny garden hermitage where she prayed, pilgrims write letters to St. Rose, asking her blessing or aid, and drop them down a well. Vendors do a brisk business in stationery and envelopes, as well as holy cards and other religious items.

Devotees who cannot travel to Lima can send their petitions to her at, and staff in the Archdiocese of Lima will print the messages and drop them down the well.

Since the beginning of August, more than 5,000 messages have arrived from as far away as Turkey, Germany, France, the United States and the Philippines, Daniel Jacobo, archdiocesan press spokesman, told CNS.

Vatican publisher enters e-book market in Italiano

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican publishing house’s exclusive contract with Apple to market a series of books through iTunes made headlines in Italy, where it marked a real breakthrough.

For the first time, books published directly by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV), are available electronically.

The 13 e-books are only in Italian and only cover LEV’s illustrated thematic collections of Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly general audience talks on subjects including: praying with the Psalms; the Apostles; Paul and the first disciples; and the early fathers of the church.

LEV licenses other publishers around the world to release and market the collections in other languages, both in print and in electronic form. Ignatius Press offers both the printed and electronic versions of the audience collections in the United States. Father Costa said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also has the rights to the electronic version in English.

(The bishops’ conference publishing office already offers thematic collections of papal talks — on the Eucharist and on Mary, among other subjects — in e-book form through its online bookstore, iTunes and Amazon.)

Father Costa said LEV chose Apple for its e-book rollout because Apple was the first company to approach the Vatican about handling electronic versions of its books in Italian. While Italian collections of the pope’s audience talks will remain with Apple, he said LEV is likely to work with Amazon on producing other e-books in Italian.

The Italian e-book market has been slow to take off, but “it’s an unstoppable process,” Father Costa said. While the LEV-controlled Italian versions of the first two volumes of Pope Benedict XVI’s major work “Jesus of Nazareth” are not available in electronic form, the third volume will be, he said.

Earlier this summer, Pope Benedict was reported to have finished writing the volume, which covers Jesus’ infancy and childhood. Father Costa said he didn’t have a publication date because the work of translating it from German had just begun. The Vatican Secretariat of State is overseeing the translation work.