The Vatican is betting an iPod beats “Shush!” in lowering the tour guide noise level in basilicas.

It will even lend you one for free to try to prove its point.

From a tiny booth in the back of St. John in Lateran, the Holy See’s pilgrim agency has been quietly asking tourists if they want to tour Rome’s oldest basilica with an iPod in hand loaded with an app specially designed to access the place’s art, architecture and Christian history.

It’s a bid to cut down on the noise as well as to appeal more to the young, not your typical pilgrim, the Rev. Caesar Atuire, CEO of the pilgrim agency, said Tuesday.

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