First it was SMS Christmas messages and Facebook pages. Now the Vatican is preparing to launch its own YouTube channel.

Devotees will be able to view video footage and audio sermons by Pope Benedict XVI on the channel when it is officially unveiled on January 23. The content will be supplied by the Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Center.

The move onto YouTube will be one of the Catholic Church’s most intensive online developments since it launched its website in 1995.

Renewing its brand profile online is perhaps not a bad way for the Vatican to revive faltering support, giving users an opportunity continue worshipping while net surfing.

But the YouTube channel will have to compete with another Vatican City site, which features a webcam permanently trained on the tomb of the last Pope, John Paul II.