Pope Francis trinkets sell briskly near Vatican

VATICAN CITY Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:15pm EDT

1 of 2. A man displays rosary beads featuring newly-printed images of the newly-elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina in a tourist shop near the Vatican in Rome March 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Less than 48 hours after his surprise election, Pope Francis's smiling face adorns pendants and devotional souvenir cards packaged with rosaries at the trinket stands near St. Peter's Square.

Small plastic bags containing a picture of Francis and a rosary - a string of prayer beads - were selling for 7 euros ($9) at Antonio Cardone's stand and postcards showing the new pontiff were selling briskly at 50 cents.

"We expect more stuff to arrive in the coming days," said Cardone. "Especially when he's officially installed on Tuesday."

Another stallholder, Stefano Di Segni, said his suppliers were scrambling to meet demand now that uncertainty had ended over who would succeed after the abdication of Benedict XVI.

Nearby, outside a Vatican City bookshop, tourists were swarming around posters with the face of the new pope on one side and excerpts from his first address on the other. Inside, they were buying Pope Francis pendants and holy cards.

Di Segni said the most popular item on his stall was still a rosary set with an image of Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005.

But he said Francis, the former Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, had the potential to become as revered as his much-loved Polish predecessor, who reigned for 27 years.

"I think he's going to be a good pope," said Di Segni, who has run trinket stands around the Vatican for 30 years.

"He was very emotional when he spoke for the first time, so different from Benedict, who was more cold and reserved."

(Reporting By Catherine Hornby; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

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