Pope Francis skullcap to make around $36,500

A skullcap worn by Pope Francis is expected to make ?�19,550-25,420 ($28,009-36,419).

The lot is selling on online auction site Catawiki, with bidding due to close on April 24.

Pope skullcap Catawiki
The Pope gave the skullcap to an Italian TV show host

It's become a Papal tradition in recent years to swap a skullcap (or zucchetto) with a worshipper.

The consignor, an Italian TV host, explains: "It was June 4, 2014 when, during the general audience in St Peter's square in Rome, my eyes crossed that of Francis.

"After exchanging glances, a gesture: I exchanged my headdress with that of the Holy Father. A simple gesture, but equivalent to the Christian religion to have received a pardon.

"The magnetic effect of the object owned and worn by the Pope was immediate, so much so that the skullcap still bears today a slight sign of lipstick from a follower, who wanted to kneel and kiss the Holy Father's headgear."

Items owned by the Pope are rarely sold. After his death it becomes a relic, which is likely to further encourage bids.

Auctioneer Fredeik James comments: "It is extremely rare that a religious symbol of this magnitude goes up for auction.

"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."

Part of the proceeds from the sale will go to benefit Israeli charity Save a Child's Heart.

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