JPII impersonator arrested

The street performer who dressed as Blessed John Paul II and posed for tourists on Via dei Fori Imperiali was detained by police on 10 May on charges of “usurpation of title”.

The Slovakian, who bears a striking resemblance to the former Polish pontiff, now faces a fine of between €154 and €929, depending on a court’s decision.

A police spokesperson is quoted as saying “the problem was that he looked a lot like Karol Wojtyla” and that usurpation of title is a crime. The man’s cassock was also confiscated.

In recent weeks the street performer could be found on Via dei Fori Imperiali, wearing a white cassock and white zucchetto skullcap with a cross around his neck, administering “blessings” to passersby in exchange for a few coins.

Prior to being detained the man received widespread media attention and it is reported that his arrest followed an anonymous complaint.

Photo La Repubblica