$9000 for Papal conclave papers

Fr Richard Kunst

A Catholic priest with a passion for Papal memorabilia has made the winning bid for ephemera from the conclave in 1903. Outside the Vatican Archives, his is now perhaps the largest collection in the world, reports The Catholic Herald.

Fr Richard Kunst has paid almost Aus $9,000 (£5,000) for a ballot paper and a scrutiny sheet used to count votes at the Papal conclave in 1903.

Fr Kunst will add the new items to his collection, one which many consider to be the largest collection of Papal memorabilia in the world outside of the Vatican.

The objects are particularly significant because ballot and scrutiny papers are supposed to be burned after each vote.

The 1903 conclave is historic because Emperor Francis Joseph I of Austria vetoed the front-runner, Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro, apparently because of his liberal views. Cardinal Rampolla had been secretary of state under the previous pope, Leo XIII.

Fr Kunst said he was so excited about the prospect of buying the ballot paper and scrutiny sheet that he couldn't sleep the night before. He said: 'I prayed about it for about three days beforehand. I couldn't sleep because it was something that I was that enthusiastic about.'

Fr Kunst took part in the live auction, held in London, over the telephone from Minnesota. He said: 'It was tense. I¹ve never really made a phone call bid. It was a live auction so it was intense. My heart rate was going. I collect anything papal related but papal elections are what's most fascinating to me.

'This was a very important vote because it was the last vote before the veto was actually boycotted. So this was a history-changing vote ­ it was not just any election. Any of these scrutiny sheets would be impressive but this one was most impressive because of the election.

Fr Kunst's papal memorabilia can be viewed at papalartefacts.org.

- Madeleine Teahan

Read more: Priest buys conclave papers for almost £5,000 (Catholic Herald)

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