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¿Jesus phone¿ lives up to the name ¿ thanks to a priest¿s app

During the hypefest leading up to the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, some overexcited pundits dubbed the device the "Jesus phone." Thanks to the efforts of a clever Italian priest, the iPhone might just have earned that lofty title.

The app iBreviary, created by Father Paolo Padrini, brings a compendium of daily prayers -- including morning prayers, evening prayers and prayers for daily Mass as well as other prayers – to your iPhone or iPod Touch.

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Released in November as an Italian-only free trial, iBreviary was downloaded 10,000 times, according to the Associated Press. The official version, a 99-cent download (or 0.79 euros on the other side of the pond), includes English, Spanish, French and, for old-school Catholics, Latin. Portuguese and German will appear in a future version.

Father Pedrini will donate his profits to charity, though the AP story made no mention of what Apple plans to do with its 30 percent cut.

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Earlier this week the Vatican endorsed iBreviary, with Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications citing the app as an example of the Church "learning to use the new technologies primarily as a tool or as a means of evangelizing, as a way of being able to share its own message with the world."

Perhaps iBreviary will counterbalance some of the more absurd apps that have cropped up for the iPhone, such as the 99-cent iFart (depressingly the Number One download at the App Store), the similar Pull My Finger (28th), and iBeer (9th). Apple did reject the jiggly iBoobs, however.

Not that I'm against silly apps, but it seems like such a waste of great technology. More apps that make a positive contribution would be a much better use of the nascent iPhone/iPod Touch platform.

As of today, iBreviary is the 67th most downloaded app on iTunes, an impressive feat given the large number of games, utilities and goofy apps against which it must compete. Apparently the world is not yet completely bereft of spirituality, despite all efforts to the contrary.

Merry Christmas.

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