An Italian company is offering a unique new service to cell phone subscribers who might be tempted to pay three euros to download an image of their favourite saint.
Starting on Wednesday, a special SMS number will process orders for the images, according to the website www.santiprotettori.com (saint protectors).
For an additional 50 cents (75 US), a "theme prayer" will be sent to the user each week, the website explains.
The images include the main patron saints as well as Our Lady of Lourdes, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina -- one of Italy's most venerated saints, associated with supernatural events -- and San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples whose blood preserved in a phial and is said to liquefy twice a year.
Though not officially a saint, the widely-revered late pope John Paul II is among the subjects offered, as well as his successor Benedict XVI.
The service is the brainchild of Barbara Labate, 31, who noticed that all her grandparents carried religious images around with them in their wallets, the daily La Stampa reported Tuesday.
Many devout Christians believe in the intercession of saints, while legends connected to saints are at the origin of many superstitions.
A patron saint is thought to have special affinity for a group or, for example, a city.