It wasn't enough that millions of people watched the televised funeral of Pope John Paul II, awed by the spectacle of the gathered religious leaders of the world in St. Peter's Square. And it wasn't enough that the election of Pope Benedict XVI commanded the world's attention, with round-the-clock television and online news coverage.
Now the Popes have set out to conquer the bestseller lists.
The stars of the burgeoning religious lit movements are the popes of the Catholic church.Between them, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have more titles on the Amazon.com lists than any secular author. The election of Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger resulted in a rush for his many published works (22 titles in all), among them Milestones, a 1977 memoir, and Introduction to Christianity, both published by the enterprising, San Francisco-based Ignatius Press.
The Ignatius Press has published Pope Benedict XVI's work for 20 years, and the rest of the industry is playing catch up. Doubleday is printing a pair of books in May. One is a collection of the Ratzinger's writings; the other a biography by John Allen Jr. Greg Tobin is writing his own book about the new Pope for Barnes & Noble Inc.
But Benedict XVI is stealing no thunder from the John Paul II. The beloved Karol Wojtiwa is the subject of Bloomsbury's forthcoming The Universal Father by Garry O'Connor. His life's work is viewed in John Paul II in the Holy Land: in His Words with Christian and Jewish Perspectives, from the Paulist Press. And Doubleday's religious arm is planning a volume by Vatican journalist Robert Moynihan.
Forget The Da Vinci Code. Never has faith been such a hot commodity.