How much would you pay for a skullcap worn by Pope Francis?
Posted April 19, 2016
One of the pope's old skullcaps is expected to bring in around $35,000 at auction this month, illustrating how a run-in with the holy leader can lead to a financial windfall for those who collect memorabilia from the man himself.
"It is extremely rare that a religious symbol of this magnitude goes up for auction," Federik Jamees, who works at Catawiki, the website handling the sale, told Crux. "This auction is a unique opportunity for museums, collectors and devout Catholics to acquire 'a relic in the making.'"
It's also a chance for the Italian man who received the skullcap, also known as a zucchetto, from the pope in June 2014 to use his good fortune to benefit others. Most of the proceeds of the auction with go to "Save a Child's Heart," a humanitarian group based in Tel Aviv, Israel, Crux reported.
Pope Francis-related items have been auctioned at least three other times, and these sales also benefitted charities or religious groups.
Another papal skullcap was sold on eBay in September 2014 for more than $130,000. The proceeds of the sale went to "an Italian charity fighting child mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo," Time reported.
Additionally, two of the Fiats Pope Francis rode in during his September 2015 visit to the U.S. have been sold this year for a total of $382,000. The Vatican allowed the Catholic Archdioceses in New York and Philadelphia to auction off the cars to benefit charities in their region, CNN reported.
As an extra perk for the buyer in New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan blessed the vehicle, the article noted.
Other religious items, including Franklin Roosevelt's Bible, the Dalai Lama's chair and John F. Kennedy's rosary beads, have made a big splash on the auction block in the past, Deseret News National reported in 2014. A letter from Albert Einstein, which explored theological and philosophical ideas, sold for more than $3 million in 2012.
Catawiki's skullcap auction ends on April 24. The highest bid as of Thursday morning was $11,311.
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