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The Hot Priest Calendar

The hot priest calendar is not its official name but, over the past two decades, the moniker has stuck (for reasons clear to anyone who’s seen it). Next year marks 20 years since the “calendario Romano” was first published, during which time it has grown from labour of love to cult souvenir.

Priest photo for Calendario Romano
Credit: Piero Pazzi

Each month of the A4 flip calendar is represented by a nameless man of the cloth, photographed in black and white, often against an ornate liturgical backdrop. Some wear a cappello romano (a type of wide-brimmed hat), others a clerical collar. Broadly speaking, each “priest” is “hot”.

The motivation for calendario Romano is pure, says the calendar’s 60-year-old Venetian photographer, Piero Pazzi. It is, he says, a “clean and honest product that simply advertises Rome and its most eloquent symbol: the Catholic clergy”.

During its mid-2010s heyday, the calendar reportedly sold about 75,000 copies a year and, today, is still in high demand. The 2023 iteration has just gone on sale, costing around 10 euros depending on which shop or kiosk you buy it from - but it's already fetching three times the price on eBay. Pazzi prefers not to estimate how many are sold now in case he gets it wrong, but he will go so far as to say that “in Rome, it is quite common”.

The calendar itself is printed by a specialist “and distributed in an artisanal way”, he says, rather than being mass-produced. There's just about enough time to put one (calendar, that is) on your Christmas 'wish-list'.


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