But I really like to learn about stuff like this. Behold, the Pope’s (Pius XI) first telephone:
A gift from Catholics in America, apparently, with real gold and mother of pearl inlay. And if you’re as weird as me, check out this really cool article about the history of the Vatican’s telephone communications systems.
As for the papal telefono, it blings, or rather: “Bling-bling! Bling-bling! Bling-bling!” Click. Holy Father: “Pronto?”
Apparently Pius XII would say “Que Pacelli” when he answered the phone, and the person on the receiving end would kneel.
Items of this sort are anachronisms now. Funny to think about early electronics — phonographs, console televisions, stereos — and the fact that many were custom-made or also nice pieces of household furniture. They were assembled by hand and apart from the circuitry inside, had options (like cars) for different finishes, accessories, etc. They were made to last longer than crap today. If your tv broke, you had it repaired. Now you just toss it in the garbage and head to Costco for a new one.
I doubt Pope Francis will receive a gold and lapis lazuli-encrusted iPhone. That gift would be stupid because everyone knows that he’s waiting on the large-screen iPhone 6, and replacing an iPhone customized with precious metal and jewels isn’t really a practical thing to do every 12-15 months.
However, if the Pope walked over to the bridge in front of Castel Sant’Angelo, he could probably get a pretty nice plastic case with a yellow and white Vatican flag on it from one of the vendors there.