Pope Francis’s white skullcap is currently going for nearly €90,000 or around $115,000 on Ebay, with 103 bids up for the Holy Father’s hat.
According to the AFP, the satirical Italian TV show Le Iene (meaning “hyenas” in English) managed to catch Pope Francis as he boarded his jeep in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 17th and offered him a new zucchetto in exchange for his old one.
The Holy Father agreed to the swap, and his old cap went up for sale that evening.
Proceeds from the sale will benefit an Italian charity fighting child mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The skullcap, also known as a zucchetto (from the Italian word “zucca” for “pumpkin”, referring to the cap’s appearance), is worn mostly for practical purposes rather than religious purposes.
It used to be Catholic tradition that once men accepted the vow of celibacy, they were “ tonsured”, which meant a ring of hair was cut from their head.
The cap kept in body heat, which was essential during the cold months in churches and monasteries of the past.
White is also a relatively recent color for Popes and their hats (given the Church’s 2000+ year history).
Popes of old used to wear what is known as a camauro, which looked a little bit like Santa’s hat. In the 1500′s, a Dominican man, Pope Pius V became Pope and kept his white Dominican habit, and popes ever since have followed suit.
This is also not the first time Pope Francis’ hat has been taken from him. A young child once got a hold of the cap during an audience with children, and Pope Francis let him have some fun before putting it back on his head. The wind has also threatened the Holy Father’s headcovering before.