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Pope’s zucchetto sold for £12,500 in 50 per cent price drop

Pope Francis exchanges his skull cap with one donated by faithful at the end of the weekly general audience in St Peter's Square (AP)

A white cap known as a zucchetto that formerly belonged to Pope Francis has been sold on the auction website Catawiki for $18,190 (£12,593). The money will partly go to Save the Child’s Heart, an Israeli-based charity which helps children with heart problems in the developing world.

The zucchetto was sold by Frederik Jamees, an auctioneer who specialises in devotional items, slot and vending machines, according to his biography on the Catawiki website.

The zucchetto sold for half the expected price of $35,000 (£24,000). A zucchetto auctioned on eBay in 2014 went for almost £70,000.

The lower price may reflect the growing number of zuchettos once worn by Francis currently in circulation. It is tradition, going back to at least Pope St Pius X, for pilgrims to present the Pope with a new zucchetto, purchased from the papal tailor Gammarelli.

However, the Pope does not always accept the new zucchetto, usually trying on the new one for a brief moment and then returning it.

The collectibles site Paul Fraser is currently offering a piece of the red carpet Benedict XVI walked on when he visited London at a price of £49.95.