England and Scotland prepare for the pope's visit, this week in religion, getting to know a Japanese Buddhist monk, and more.

England and Scotland are preparing for the first official papal visit to Britain, and official memorabilia to mark Pope Benedict XVI’s visit is on sale.

In addition to mugs and key chains, worshippers can mark the occasion with a Swarovski bracelet, T-shirts, rosaries and more.

Check out the offerings at www.papalvisitstore.com.

According to wire reports, tens of thousands of Church followers are expected to attend events in London, Birmingham and Glasgow during the four-day visit, which will include prayer vigils, a beatification ceremony and an open-air Mass.

Week in Religion

- On Aug. 7, 1420, construction of the dome of Italian cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore begins in Florence.

- On Aug. 8, 1844, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, headed by Brigham Young, is reaffirmed as the leading body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

- On Aug. 9, 1483, the Sistine Chapel is opened.

Survey Says

A recent survey of United Methodist Church leaders, agency executives, seminary heads and staff found that more than half of respondents rated the UMC's highest governing body, the General Conference, as below average in effectiveness in such areas as decision-making and in making disciples for Jesus Christ.

-- Apex Healthcare Group

Good Book?

“Miracles Every Day: The Story of One Physician's Inspiring Faith and the Healing Power of Prayer” by Maura Poston Zagrans

This is the story of Dr. Issam Nemeh, a Cleveland-based physician and devout Catholic who has prayed over tens of thousands of people from all faiths and all walks of life in the past two decades.

The result? Miracles. Injuries healed, cancers cured, sight and hearing restored. Yet, as Dr. Nemeh will be the first to point out, “the miracles are just to get our attention.” The healings do not originate from him, but from God.

This chronicle traces the lives of the doctor and his dedicated wife, and brings us the uplifting stories of the many people who have been healed through one man's powerful faith.

-- Amazon.com

Get to Know … Shinran

Shinran (1173–1263) was a Japanese Buddhist monk.

Born in what is now Kyoto, Japan, Shinran lived during the Kamakura Period, a time when Buddhism grew increasingly popular.

He was a pupil of Honen, a religious reformer and founder of the first independent branch of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism. When Honen was forced into exile because some opposed his teachings, Shinran also went into exile and began developing his own beliefs.

Shinran was the founder of what ultimately became the Jodo Shinshu sect in Japan, a still widely practiced branch of Buddhism in that country.

The Word

Kiddushin: Hebrew for "consecration:" A Jewish engagement to be married. – religioustolerance.org

Religion Around the World

Religious makeup of Nicaragua

Roman Catholic: 58.5 percent

Evangelical: 21.6 percent

Moravian: 1.6 percent

Jehovah's Witness: 0.9 percent

Other: 1.7 percent

None: 15.7 percent

- CIA Factbook

GateHouse News Service