Religion news in brief

National Cathedral to charge fee

WASHINGTON – Struggling to cover its costs, officials at Washington National Cathedral say they’ve decided to begin charging admission fees for tourists who visit the church beginning in 2014.

The fee will be $10 for adults and $6 for children, seniors and military. Admission will be free Sundays, as well as on weekdays for those who visit to worship or pray.

The Rev. Gary Hall is the cathedral’s dean, and he says the church will charge for tourism but not for essential services. He says the decision to charge was made reluctantly but that cathedrals in Europe charge fees to help fund upkeep.

The National Cathedral is working to raise funds to repair earthquake damages from 2011 totaling $26 million. The church still must raise $19 million for repairs.

Psalm book fetches record $14.2M

NEW YORK – A tiny book of psalms from the year 1640 has sold for $14.2 million in New York City, setting an auction record for a printed book.

The Bay Psalm Book is believed to be the first book printed in what’s now the United States. Only 11 copies survive, in varying degrees of completeness.

The book sold at Sotheby’s auction house in Manhattan on Tuesday evening was one of two copies held by Boston’s Old South Church, which sold it to increase its grants and fund its ministries.

It was bought by American businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein, who plans to lend it to libraries around the country. Its presale estimate was $15 million to $30 million.

Pope bundles up for chilly audience

VATICAN CITY – A chilly Pope Francis has cheered the thousands of pilgrims who braved a cold snap belting Italy to attend his weekly general audience, saying they were courageous to come out.

Francis himself was bundled up in a white double-breasted winter coat and scarf, but it wasn’t enough. He had to use his sleeves as a muffler to keep his hands warm amid temperatures that Wednesday dipped to freezing with the wind chill factored in.

For the bulk of the audience, Francis sat on a platform under gray skies in the wind-whipped St. Peter’s Square.

Francis cancelled his audiences earlier this month after suffering a cold. The 77-year-old Argentine doesn’t enjoy the robust health of his predecessors, having lost most of one lung to an infection when he was younger.

Associated Press