Skip to main content

Minnesota man leaves Rome with papal keepsake


The pope gave another Minnesotan a memorable keepsake. For Pete Stauber, it capped off a life-changing pilgrimage to Rome.

Getting the opportunity to get close to the pope at the weekly general audience and ritual "popemobile" drive through the crowd is rare enough, but to have the chance to trade caps with the pontiff is even more astounding. Stauber got that chance, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

The Hermantown man exchanged zucchettos – a type of beanie or skullcap – with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Feb. 26.

Before his trip, Stauber learned the key of exchanging caps with the pope – Pope Francis will only participate in the trade if it's an official pope cap that's his size, Rev. Richard Kunst from St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Duluth told the newspaper. Kunst has one of the largest collections of papal artifacts.

“I basically told them how to do it,” Kunst told the Duluth News Tribune. “Many try and don’t succeed.”

Stauber and his wife, Jodi, went to Gammarelli, the official pope outfitter, and purchased a zucchetto for around $83. The price was steep, but it turned out to be worth it.

In a group of 30,000 to 50,000 people, Stauber was standing in the right place at the right time. The popemobile stopped at Stauber, whose arm was stretched out, and a guard took his zuccehtto. Pope Francis checked it for size and authenticity, then removed the cap from his head and handed it off. The rare exchange was captured on official Vatican video – start watching at the 12 minute, 55 second mark.

Trading caps with the pope has become a modern custom, but it takes a lot of luck. Last December, a Minnetonka native studying abroad in Rome traded caps with the pope as he drove past. Last November, a University of Minnesota student got to participate in the special exchange.

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

KAT sets a franchise record, leaves early in loss to Wizards

Towns fell on his back in the final minutes of a loss in Washington.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man shot by police in Forest Lake dies from injuries

It was one of two police shootings in the Twin Cities on the same day, both of which proved fatal.

Dylan Bundy

Report: Twins agree to deal with Dylan Bundy

The Twins signed the right-hander with a lockout imminent.

Flickr - face masks covid pole - Ivan Radic

'Everyone should really be masking up' in public, Malcolm says

The health commissioner said residents have gotten "a little bit lax" with some protective measures.

Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton believes he's the best player in baseball

"Nobody [does] the things that I do. I know that."

unsplash medical marijuana

Edibles coming to Minnesota's medical marijuana program

MDH also announced it will not add anxiety as qualifying condition.

plow, snowplow, snow

Plowable snow possible this weekend in Minnesota

Up to half a foot of snow could fall within the heaviest band.

Best Buy - jjbers, Flickr

Police reveal new details about 'coordinated' Best Buy thefts

A large group stole thousands of dollars in merchandise from three Twin Cities Best Buy stores.

Seven Points exterior - 2

New tenant revealed for former Libertine spot in Uptown

The space will combine playful art offerings with a restaurant.

white Christmas

What are Minnesota's chances of a white Christmas this year?

The Twin Cities averages a white Christmas about 3 out of every 4 years.

ilhan omar press conference voicemail screengrab 11.30.21

'You will not live much longer b***': Rep. Omar shares threatening voicemail

Omar's office received the call hours after Rep. Boebert posted her video about the MN congresswoman.

Screen Shot 2021-12-01 at 11.24.09 AM

ESPN's 'Booger' makes fun of Wild fans' record cup snake

He's the same guy who thought the "Minneapolis Miracle" was bad for the Vikings.