The silk hat, acquired by the host of an Italian TV show, is set to fetch around £25,000. A large part of the proceeds from the auction will go to the charity Save a Child’s Heart*, including Catawiki’s full commission fees. Famed for his humility and outspoken concern for the poor, Pope Francis gifted his hat to an Italian TV show host in June 2014 during the general audience in St Peter's square in Rome. The Pope was passing through crowds at his regular audience when the TV host reached out offering a new skullcap. Footage of the moment shows the Pope carefully inspecting the hat before swapping it with his own, and was documented by the Italian media. The video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-w71zbgiOQ The practice of prelates gifting their hats to a faithful in an exchange is not uncommon. Pope Pius XII began this custom in the modern era and it has been continued by Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. Although this ceremony is somewhat of a tradition, the hat is in no way dimished in its value. The Holy Father’s skullcap is a highly powerful symbol in the Catholic religion. Frederik Jamees, Catawiki’s specialist devotionalia auctioneer, comments, “It is extremely rare that a religious symbol of this magnitude goes up for auction. The Pope’s clothing is made especially for him, and after his death the articles automatically become relics, meaning that they are no longer allowed to be sold. 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.” The auction will run from the 8th to the 24th April 2016 at: http://auction.catawiki.com/kavels/5023105 Notes to editors: Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) was founded by the late Dr. Ami Cohen to save as many children as possible with heart disease from developing countries, regardless of nationality, religion, race, gender or financial situation. It treats children suffering from heart disease and creates centers of competence in these countries. To date, SACH has provided care to over 4,000 children from 50 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and South America and trained more than 100 medical team members from those countries. For the vast majority of children, from the moment they comes into care until they are fully recovered, costs are covered by SACH and its partners, including medical, travel, and accommodation, even if the child requires a life-time of cardiac care. SACH doctors all volunteer their time to the organization. This means that the full cost of life-saving heart surgery trough SACH is only $15,000 per child.
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