Thursday, December 21, 2006

Swiss Guard Sticker Book

(CNS) -- Move over baseball players and soccer stars -- an Italian publisher is hoping to hook young collectors on the Swiss Guards.

To honor the guards in their 500th year of service to the popes, the publisher has released a deluxe collector's album with 250 different stickers.

"The Guardian Angels of the Pope" is heavy on images and light on text, but the brief explanations of each sticker are provided in both Italian and English.

The images used were chosen and the explanations written by Giovanni Morelli, the retired Vatican Library employee who served as researcher and curator of the 2006 Vatican exhibition on the history of the Swiss Guards.

Claudio Ventrella, editorial director of Pubblicazioni Collezionare Cultura, said the sticker collection fits perfectly with the company's commitment to using sticker mania to promote appreciation of Italy's culture, including its religious history and heritage.

The company already has sold 200,000 albums and some 20 million stickers in its two series on the saints, he said.

But while the saints' albums and stickers are sold separately through Italian newsstands, the Swiss Guards' special edition is sold in bookstores or over the Internet -- -- in a box with the album and all the stickers ready to be affixed.

The album includes the history of the Swiss Guards, illustrated with portraits of all the popes of the past 500 years and the 33 commanders who have led the corps over the course of five centuries.

Vittorio Pranzini, who worked with Morelli in putting the book together, says he has no doubt the more serious collectors will be most interested in the second chapter: a look at how the guards' uniforms have changed through the years.

The album also includes photo-stickers of the daily work and life of the guards as they watch over the pope, patrol the Vatican and train in the use of their medieval halberds.Ventrella said that with the price at 48 euros, just over $63, the publisher did a limited first printing of 5,000 copies.

But he hopes further print runs are necessary, he said.

As the success of the saints' series has shown, he said, stickers are "a winning formula for joining fun and curiosity with culture and faith."

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