Fake Pope Arrested In Rome, Looked Too Much Like Real Pope

A fake pope arrested in Rome was nabbed for looking way too much like the deceased Pope John Paul II.

A Slovak street performer was dressed in white papal vestments and was detained and fined by Rome police for … well … playing the part way too well, authorities said Friday.

“The problem was that he looked a lot like Karol Wojtyla [John Paul II’s birth name]. He was detained for usurpation of title which is a misdemeanour,” said a police spokeswoman. “The cassock he was wearing has been confiscated,” she added.

The man was released, but he’ll need to pay between 154 and 929 euros ($200 and $1,200) pending a decision by a judge.

An officer at the station where the 55-year-old pope impersonator was held seemed to have a poor opinion of his arrest, remarking “If he had been dressed like Tutankhamun nothing would have happened.”

The fake pope arrested for looking too much like the real deal was working the main avenue leading to the Colosseum in his papal vestments for weeks. He worked alongside other impersonators dressed as Roman centurions and various other street performers. Police snagged the fake pope following an anonymous complaint.

One vendor, who sells miniature Colosseum souvenirs, said that he saw the fake pope being arrested on Thursday.


“He was right here, near me. He was taken away by two officers in civilian clothes who were pretending to be tourists,” he said.

Pope impersonators are not all that uncommon. A quick Google search shows that there are various Pope John Paul II impersonators, as well as those portraying Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

What do you think? Should the fake pope, arrested in Rome, be fined for impersonating John Paul II too well?

[Image via: Radomił Binek, Wikimedia Commons]