Pope Francis Gifted Bottle of Bourbon Signed by Mark Stoops
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Pope Francis Gifted Bottle of Bourbon Signed by Kentucky Football Coach Mark Stoops

Pope Francis

Father Jim Sichko gifted Pope Francis a bottle of Wm. Tarr signed by University of Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops. (Image via Father Jim Sichko)

Pope Francis has a lot on his plate. Between running the Catholic church and meeting with world leaders, you would think he doesn’t have time for anything else. But this week, the Pope found time to meet with Father Jim Sichko, a missionary of mercy commissioned by Francis and a priest with the Diocese of Lexington. And what did Father Sichko bring the Pope as a gift? A bottle of bourbon signed by University of Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops.

“[Stoops] had signed the bottle for me the night before I was leaving for Rome,” Sichko said in a phone interview with the Lexington Herald Leader. “I looked at him and said, ‘Why sign it to me? Put it to Pope Francis and I’ll give it to him.’ He looked at me like I wasn’t really going to do that. I said, ‘Coach, I’m going to give it to him, and now watch how far you go. You’ll go all the way this year.’ He laughed and laughed.”

According to the Herald Leader, Sichko usually brings bourbon as a gift during his papal visits. On this trip, he brought two bottles: a personalized bottle of Bulleit Bourbon and a bottle of Wm. Tarr signed by Stoops, which was presented to the pope during a public forum.

Beyond his holy contributions, Pope Francis is known for having a bit of a hankering for booze. In 2020, he referred to scotch whisky as “the real holy water,” and just this week, he joked that he needed some tequila to help his knee feel better.

In January, Sichka sold a rare bottle of Buffalo Trace’s 1995 O.F.C. Vintage Bourbon and a basketball blessed by Pope Francis for $16,698 at auction and put all of the funds toward recovery in western Kentucky from a Dec. 10 tornado that caused widespread destruction in the area.

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Madison Kopta is an editor at Whiskey Raiders. As a Northern California native and mom of four, Madison spends much of her time enjoying the great outdoors with her family. From camping to keeping an eagle eye out for Bigfoot, you can find Madison in nature, enjoying a glass of whiskey with her husband.