A white skullcap worn by Pope Francis is up for auction with thousands of dollars in proceeds going to Israeli charity Save A Child’s Heart.
The “authentic skullcap” given by Francis to an Italian TV show host during an audience in Rome in two years ago is expected to fetch some $36,000 in the rare online auction.
The pope was captured on camera taking the new skullcap offered to him by Damiano Cavadi during an audience in St Peter’s Square in 2014. Footage of Francis carefully inspecting the cap before swapping it with his own became famous in Italy.
The practice of popes gifting hats to the faithful is not an uncommon in Catholicism, though the sale of such items is rare since clothing worn by a pope becomes a holy relic after his death, and is no longer allowed to be sold.
As of Tuesday morning, the cap was fetching $20,359. Bidding opened April 8 and is scheduled to close on April 24.
European online auction house Catawiki said a large part of the auction proceeds would be donated to Save a Child’s Heart, including the full commission fees.
“It is extremely rare that a religious symbol of this magnitude goes up for auction,” Catawiki auctioneer Frederik Jamees said.
“This auction is a unique opportunity for museums, collectors and devout Catholics to acquire ‘a relic in the making’ and also to help others by donating money to Save a Child’s Heart. Given the pope’s following, we expect to see an influx of bids from across the globe,” he said.
Dedicated to improving the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries, the Holon-based Save a Child’s Heart has saved the lives of more than 4,000 children from over 50 developing countries.
The children are flown into Israel from locations as distant as Tanzania and the Philippines, and are treated at the Wolfson Medical Center at little or no expense to the patient’s family.
According to the organization, approximately 50% of the 250 children who receive medical care through SACH each year are from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Iraq and Morocco.