Devoted followers of fashion

Every two years, in the little Italian town of Vicenza, merchants gather for the biggest religious fair in the world. Vestment producers, sculptors and rosary sellers satisfy a growing demand for religious articles, from Pope Francis fridge magnets to devotional candles, a business that generates billions in Italy alone.
It’s 08:30 in the morning and muscular workers are unloading trucks full of boxes marked “Fragile”, clothes wrapped in tissue paper with “New collection, 2015″ written on the hangers are being carried into the exhibition centre, and young women in miniskirts and stilettos are rushing around getting things organised.
But when church bells chime the hour and the doors open, we enter what some might take to be a priest’s version of Heaven, filled with life-size statues of Mary, every possible type of holy water sprinklers and the very latest collection of cassocks and tunics.

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