Vatican artifacts tour North America in wake of papal news

LOS ANGELES: An exhibit of Vatican artifacts set to tour North America this summer is benefiting from unexpected media interest following the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of his successor.

LOS ANGELES: An exhibit of Vatican artifacts set to tour North America this summer is benefiting from unexpected media interest following the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of his successor.

"Even though it was unfortunate that we lost the pope, that this happened right now has made the tour more interesting," said Susan Tellem, head of LA-based Tellem Worldwide, which has been hired to promote the tour.

Tellem said interest in the exhibit is so high that a recent press release about it in San Antonio, Texas yielded more than one hundred clips.

The tour is run by Clear Channel Exhibitions and includes artifacts from the first pope through to Benedict XVI, including objects belonging to John Paul II. One of the featured items is a cast of the late pope's hand, which visitors will be able to touch. The tour opens in Montreal in June, and will travel to San Antonio in the fall, then on to Milwaukee.

Tellem is charged with handling media relations, as well as outreach to Catholic schools, dioceses, and communities. In addition, the firm is doing a more general outreach to non-catholic institutions and art historians.

"We are reaching out to Protestant, Jewish, and Muslims [groups]," said Tellem. "There are different gifts from different people who have met with popes over the years that might interest other faiths, and of course jewels and fabrics and maps and things that have interest to art historians."

Tellem said the agency won the account based on previous work done for Clear Channel, including the Dora the Explorer tour.

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