London, June 7: Pope Benedict XVI emerged as a best-selling author, after more than 2.5 million copies of his latest book were sold in just over a year.
The massive sales of the pontiff's last book, Jesus of Nazareth, his first major publication written as Pope, has convinced Helder, the largest Catholic publisher in Europe, to reprint a series of Benedict's earlier scholarship. His entire literary output before he became Pope is to be issued in thirteen volumes, with the first volume to appear in bookshops at the end of this year. Jesus of Nazareth came eighth on last year's bestseller chart in Italy, despite costing 15.50 pounds, and outsold the latest releases by Paolo Coelho and Wilbur Smith.
The popularity of the pope has also helped sales of his two encyclicals, God is Love and Saved by Hope
Moreover, there is growing demand for the works he produced as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, when he was the Vatican's chief expert on doctrine, and even for his writings as a German theology professor in Bavaria.
The British edition of the book is published by Bloomsbury, the publishers of Harry Potter.
Before becoming the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Benedict had penned 132 books, monographs and commentaries.
The Pope's books as a cardinal include Introduction to Christianity; Salt of the Earth; The Ratzinger Report; Truth and Tolerance; God and the World; The Spirit of the Liturgy; Many Religions, One Covenant; Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today; The Nature and Mission of Theology; The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood; and Milestones, a memoir of his life from his birth until 1977.
"We are going to reprint 13 volumes to start with," BBC quoted Father Giuseppe Costa, an official at the Vatican's publishing house who is cooperating with Helder, as saying.
"There is a rich and extraordinary catalogue and today's readers are looking at it with growing interest. In the pope there is a strong point of reference, both for religion and culture," he added.