A white skullcap worn by Pope Francis is now being auctioned online and some of the proceeds have been designated for the Israeli charity Save a Child’s Heart (SACH).

Catawiki, the online auction house, says the holy bidding war will likely bring in $36,000 for the sacred head covering.

Save a Child’s Heart, which saves children with congenital and acquired heart defects who have almost no chance of surviving to adulthood in their native countries, will receive a large part of the proceeds from the rare sale.

“The auction house approached us with this offer. The fact that Save a Child’s Heart is a humanitarian project saving children regardless of their religion, nationality, color and gender was very important for this decision. It is a project that saves lives, builds bridges between different people and helps create a better, healthier and safer future for all children,” a SACH spokesperson tells ISRAEL21c.

The skullcap was first put up for auction in 2014 on eBay but the sale never went through.

It is unusual for an item of clothing from the pontiff’s wardrobe to be offered to the public, says auctioneer Frederik James, a devotionalia expert at Catawiki.

“The Pope’s clothing is made special for him and after his death, the articles of clothing automatically become relics, meaning that they are no longer allowed to be sold. Since the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church has prohibited the trade of relics. A deceased Pope’s clothing must therefore never be sold,” said James.

The calotte up for auction can be sold because Pope Francis is still alive.

Pope Francis traded his white skullcap with a TV journalist. Photo via Catawiki
Pope Francis traded his white skullcap with a TV journalist. Photo via Catawiki

The head cap became famous after the pontiff traded his white calotte with an Italian television host in the crowd of a Saint Peter’s Square gathering in 2014. The journalist provided the Pope with a similar skullcap as a trade. Pope Francis accepted the offer and placed the traded cap directly on his head. The trade was recorded by TV cameras and was broadcast across the world.

Now, the TV host who received the calotte from the Pope has decided to sell it and raise money for Save a Child’s Heart.

“This auction is a unique opportunity for museums, for example, to acquire a ‘relic in the making.’ Items used or touched by the pope are highly desired all over the world and I expect to see bids coming in from across the world for this calotte,” said auctioneer James.

Bids for the Pope’s skullcap began on April 8 and will continue through April 24. The bids topped $20,000 within the first 24 hours.