Priests pose for Piero Pazzi calendar

Church officials nix beauty pageant for nuns

Casting call … Seeking: hunky Roman Catholic seminarians for calendar sold from Seville to Sydney.

Italo photog Piero Pazzi claims he indeed shoots real priests for Calendario Romano — known in Rome as the Vatican beefcake calendar — which has become such an international cult item that Rizzoli recently snapped up rights to publish an American edition.

Bolstering his claim, Pazzi has posted casting calls in four languages on his website, calendarioromano.org. And while they don’t say hunkyness is required, the English version oddly states that “single clergymen” are being sought for the shoot.

“It’s just intended as a souvenir,” Pazzi tells Variety, noting that he gets plenty of orders for the calendar from Protestant female ministers in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

The shots “are mostly pictures of real priests, which I take during my travels. But sometimes I do get Catholic priests who respond to the casting call,” he says. 

As for hunkyness, “I pick them young to signal that their calling is still very much alive,” is all Pazzi would concede.  

Pazzi’s clever cottage industry, of course, has no ties to the Vatican, but he does seem to have a tacit Holy See seal of approval: Copies of Calendario Romano were being handed out in June by organizers of World Youth Day in Sydney as an unofficial marketing tool for the massive Roman Catholic teen shindig.

But more recently the Vatican chastised an Italian priest with a similar initiative: a beauty contest for nuns between 18 and 40.

Father Antonio Rungi made Italo headlines in August when his planned Sister Italia pageant was shot down by his superiors despite his claims that it would help “boost sagging vocations.”

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