Believe it or not, Pope Francis has been honored by being depicted with his pants down (or in his case, robe up) taking a dump.
It's all part of the long-standing 'caganer' ('crapper') tradition in Barcelona and the Spanish region of Catalonia, as well as in Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Andorra and parts of southern France. These extremely popular holiday season statuettes are hidden in Christmas nativity scenes throughout the region where people delight in finding a caganer doing his or her business behind the manger, under a tree or in the shadow of a Wise Man.
Yesterday the preeminent producer of these little poopers, Caganer.com, unveiled forty new Christmas crappers, including athletes, politicians and celebrities. Joining Pope Francis in the 2013 line up are two new stars of the Spanish soccer clubs FCBarcelona and Real Madrid, Neymar and Gareth Bale, and their respective coaches, 'Tata' Martino and Carlo Ancelloti.
Others include motorcycle champion Marc Marquez, Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel and racing and mountain athlete Kilian Jornet. Internationally, former South African president Nelson Mandela also has a caganer, along with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Scottish Prime Minister Alex Salmond and Italian comedian / politician Beppe Grillo. Figures from the world of music include Bob Marley and Pau Casals. This year even video game star Angry Bird gets caught in the act.
This Christmas custom dates back to the 1800s and is meant to remind us of the humanity we all share with the Christ child. The defecating figurines are also said to represent fertilization and bring good luck for the new year. Traditionally, the caganer was depicted as a peasant, wearing the traditional Catalan red cap (called a "barretina") and with his trousers down, revealing a bare backside and a pile of feces below.
Today a wide variety of other characters are depicted as caganers, including priests, nuns, devils, witches, Santa Claus, Spanish royalty, British royalty, film stars, politicians and other famous folk past and present.