Divine Business / 2

After the Devoted Followers of Fashion came out on BBC Magazine, the renowned Moncrieff show on Newstalk radio in Dublin contacted me for an interview.

They wanted to have a glimpse of the Vicenza fair and I was happy to have a chat with them – here’s what happened.


Divine Business

My Catholic upbringing evolved around a couple of concepts: money is bad, girls are evil, and masturbation makes you blind. At that time I was already wearing glasses and half-blind so, as you can imagine, I didn’t really pay attention to that part.

When I stepped into the Fiere di Vicenza last week, a laborious town in the north east side of Italy, I realised that Don Aldo, the grouchy foul-mouthed chain-smoking priest that chased us with a stick around the church when we were children, gave us the wrong impression of religion.


Vicenza, every couple of years, hosts the largest religious fair in the world where producers and manufacturers from around the globe gather in this small town to trade holy merchandise, from Pope Francis fridge magnets to life-size statues of the Virgin Mary – quite impressive I would say.


Smiling young girls with stilettos and miniskirts show priests and high clergy around the newest trends in tunics and robes, a wide array of holy water sprinklers and high-tech devotional candles that operate with a contact-less credit card.


I mingled with priests and nuns for a couple of days to see what they’d buy and what they’d look for at this enormous fair and I came to the conclusion that Catholicism is not only about sacrifice, atonement and punishment. And that nuns are not immune to religious fashion.

More to come on BBC Magazine.

These marvellous pictures are Andrea Pasquali’s, an old friend, a tireless cyclist and a great photographer.