Today at the Sunday Angelus the Pope had volunteers in St. Peter’s Square distribute vangelini tascabili – small pocket-sized gospel books (also including Acts of the Apostles).
They were printed by the Vatican Publishing House only in Italian and were distributed for free. (Probably various benefactors paid for the printing.) The Pope insisted on the fact that they were free, but then towards the end he said, in a light-hearted way, that those who receive them should “pay” for them by doing an act of charity!
Here is what I saw before I entered St. Peter’s Square: a table set up with the books to be given away:
Pope Francis greets the crowds when he first appears at his study window in the Apostolic Palace:
A view of the large crowd in the Square – Pope up there towards the right:
What the book looks like – front cover:
What the book looks like – back cover:
Size comparison with my smartphone:
There was – as I expected – quite a feeding frenzy once it was allowed to go get a copy of the book. I would imagine, however, that they will be printed again and will be available in stores within a few weeks. And who knows; now that the Pope has made so much publicity about this (he’s talked about it on at least three Sundays), maybe an American Catholic publisher will come out with a special economical edition of a pocket Gospels & Acts to match this Italian edition. Or maybe the Vatican Bookstore will also print it in English. We’ll see what happens.
It is worth noting, however, that the Pope acknowledged in his address today that it is possible to have the entire Word of God (understood here in a limited sense: only the Bible, not all of Sacred Tradition as well) on a smartphone or a tablet; and he emphasized that we should read it and share it, whether we have it in a book or on a device!