A performer from Slovakia — so far unidentified — was arrested in Rome on Friday on a misdemeanor charge for pretending to be the late John Paul II.
For the past several weeks, according to Britain’s Telegraph, the papal lookalike, dressed in a white cassock and decorated with a skull cap and a crucifix on a necklace, has been entertaining tourists near the Via dei Fori Imperiali, the broad avenue that leads up to the Colosseum and a lucrative spot for attracting passers-by. … Some would drop a few euro coins into his silver tray.
“John Paul was a great Pope. Lots of people ask to have their photograph taken with me,” he told the paper, as he sat on a chair and smiled broadly as he held a Bible.
Police who detained him told him he will be hit with a fine of between about $200 to more than $1,200, depending on a court’s decision.
“The problem was that he looked a lot like Karol Wojtyla. He was detained for usurpation of title which is a misdemeanour,” a police spokeswoman told AFP.
“The cassock he was wearing has been confiscated,” she said, adding that the action had been taken after an anonymous complaint.
The Slovak was one of several buskers and street artists who try their luck along the street, from bands of Peruvian pipers to fake centurions and legionaries and performers who stand stock still dressed as the Statue of Liberty.
“If he had been dressed like Tutankhamen nothing would have happened,” another police officer said.
Local media had joked that the fake Pope had brought the number of pontiffs in Rome to three, along with Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who is living out his retirement in a former convent in the Vatican.