Berlusconi-Owned Publisher Unveils New Magazine Focused on Pope Francis

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Pope Francis

The Mondadori publication will feature a weekly fold-out poster of the pope, a "saints of the week" column and TV listings for programs about Christianity and faith.

ROME – The publishing arm of Silvio Berlusconi’s media empire will hit newsstands Wednesday with Italy's first-ever weekly magazine that focuses completely and exclusively on a one particular person: Pope Francis.

The first edition of the magazine -- to be called Il Mio Papa, Italian for "My Pope" -- will be part of a reported first month run of 3 million copies. If most of them are sold, it will make the magazine one of the best sellers for Mondadori, the 107-year-old publisher Berlusconi has controlled since 1991.

Like Berlusconi, Mondadori -- Italy’s biggest publisher and a leading publisher in France and Greece -- has not been shy about courting controversy in the past. Closer, the French Mondadori-owned gossip magazine, earned worldwide headlines two years ago when it was the first to publish topless photos of Kate Middleton, the British Duchess of Cambridge. And last year, Mondadori's Italian gossip publication clashed with the Vatican when it became the first to break a ban on photographing the then-newly-retired Pope Benedict XVI.

Berlusconi's own exploits, which include "bunga bunga" sex parties and a conviction for paying an underage female for sex, have been criticized by Vatican officials in the past.

Mondadori hopes to bid for the attention of the faithful with the new weekly publication, saying it will be a "meeting place" for fans of the pope to send in poems, letters, or drawings in his honor. Mondadori says the publication will feature photos -- including a weekly fold-out poster of the pope -- along with a "saints of the week" column and television listings for programs about Christianity and faith.

Twitter: @EricjLyman