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Pope will see himself everywhere in Philly when he arrives Friday night
Pope Francis is everywhere in Philadelphia store windows in advance of his arrival Friday. Here, a Popeadelphia cup and a bobble-head doll. - photo by Lois M Collins
PHILADELPHIA Wags are calling the city Popeadelphia a term emblazoned on about a million mugs in this city of brotherly love and sisterly affection. And though Pope Francis' travel plans call for him to arrive Friday evening, he's already here.

Sort of.

The pope's smiling and occasionally pensive visage adorns everything from bobble-head dolls and plush toys for kids to jewelry, banners, books, tote bags, neckties, T-shirts and posters.

There are three-dimensional tiles and watercolor paintings. His face peers out from lanyards. A visitor to the World Meeting of Families can even find candles with layered renditions of the pontiff's face. In the exhibit hall alone one counts 16 different T-shirt designs related to the papal visit, his first to America.

"Popeful" is splashed across a T-shirt that bears his image.

If I may "pontificate," I'll note that they're ready to make him feel welcome.

Merchandising papal visits has a long tradition in the United States and elsewhere, according to a recent Deseret News National story. In 1987, the U.S. tour undertaken by John Paul II, then in the ninth year of his pontificate, inspired such items as a "Pope-Scope," a cardboard tube with small mirrors at an angle, so people could see his motorcade over the heads of others. Other souvenirs included buttons, a T-shirt inscribed "Your Holiness, Welcome to Texas" and additional booklets.

Six years later, mindful of such kitsch as "Pope-on-a-Rope" soap bars, Catholic leaders in 1993 prepared for another Pope John Paul II visit to America by hiring the Famous Artists Merchandising Exchange of Dayton, Ohio, to handle licensing of the pope's image, according to The New York Times (paywall).
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