When visiting the Vatican, stopping and shopping in the Borgo Pio neighborhood is a must. These historic streets are filled with hundreds of shops, restaurants and hotels where one can find practically anything.
"I came to look for a crucifix for my house ”
"I came to buy a present for a friend back home, a family friend who is making their first Holy Communion So something they could associate with Rome and with the Church. ”
In this store, clients are usually looking for statues of saints. Items related to Divine Mercy also sell quite well. But the most popular item of all, is actually the rosary.
"Metal rosaries, glass rosaries, silver ones, all types really. Most of our clients are Americans, especially since the dollar to euro rate is doing quite well. We also have some South American and Filipino clients.”
But despite the popularity of these shops, they are not immune to the global economic crisis that struck most economies a few years back. Their livelihood depends on the Pope, the events he organizes and the pilgrims he attracts.
The conclave and the first few months of Pope Francis were good for business, but now things are back to normal and the number of clients is somewhat static, some would say, even low.
"We've seen our business sales decline about 30 percent. We see this here and also in nearby shops. We're hoping the Jubilee Year of Mercy will bring in more customers.”
So these businesses are hoping the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which starts on December 8th, will bring in massive amounts of pilgrims. The last one took place in the year 2000 and it brought roughly 25 million people to Rome. An increase of roughly 25 percent, when compared to the previous year.