Believe it or not, there’s a way to get the pope to surrender his hat to you. All you have to do is offer him a trade.
It’s all part of a slightly-bizarre yet long-standing tradition among popes. And for the record, we aren’t talking about the large, ornate headwear you sometimes see Pope Francis sporting, we’re talking about his zucchetto (skullcap). Just be warned: Few people have managed to pull off a successful trade with Francis so far.
The process works like this: First, you have to acquire a hat to trade with the pope. To do that, swing by his tailor in Rome and purchase one for about $68. The tricky part here is trying to guess what size will fit Francis’ head best.
Once you have your brand new zucchetto, the next challenge is actually finding the pope. Fortunately, Francis is known to give plenty of public appearances and has a history of mingling with the crowd in ways that make his security staff uncomfortable. This should give you the perfect chance to weave through the faithful and get nice and close.
Now that you’re in his field of vision, wave that fresh skullcup nice and high in the air so he can see it. Normally, Francis will order the popemobile’s driver to slow down next to you. The pope will then remove his hat and try on yours. If it fits, he will surrender his zucchetto to you. If it doesn’t, Francis will keep his hat and return yours.
Here’s one of the lucky ones:
Believe us: Your head will never feel so glorious.
But if you’re more of the entrepreneurial type, you can slap that bad boy on eBay and probably bring home $1,000.
The tradition has been more or less prominent depending on the pope. John Paul II wasn’t huge on the trade, but Benedict was known to swap his headwear from time to time.
Let’s just hope they don’t have lice.