FASHION UPDATE! Pope does NOT wear Prada

Papal shoes 2.jpg L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, confirms rumors that those nifty red loafers Benedict XVI has worn since the day after his election are not name brand, but personally cobbled by some Vatican Geppetto. According to the AP:

“Obviously the attribution was false,” the Vatican newspaper said in its Thursday’s editions. “Such rumors are inconsistent with the simple and somber man who, on the day of his election to the papacy, showed to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square and to the whole world the sleeves of a modest black sweater,” it said.
L’Osservatore Romano said the pope’s interest in clothes has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with liturgy — what symbolism traditional garments can bring to the Christian liturgy.
“The pope, therefore, does not wear Prada, but Christ,” L’Osservatore said.


Papal shoes 1.jpg I still think they could market papal loafers and make some real cash–more than the few Euros those Swiss Guard keychains fetch…
AGGIORNAMENTO: Lest anyone think these fashion posts are about frippery or flippery, I do consider these matters with a serious side, as well as a good bit of fun and history (which I consider one and the same). In that regard, I would point folks to the blogs of Fr. Guy Selvester, a priest of the Diocese of Metuchen in my native New Jersey and the reigning expert (well, outside of the papal apartments) in ecclesiastical heraldry and vesture as well as a fine blogger and founder of “Shouts in the Piazza.” It was from Father Guy that I first heard, months ago, word that the pope did not in fact wear Prada. Nonetheless, the official Vatican confirmation is newsworthy.
Along with that, I’d direct interested readers to the latest from Sandro Magister’s Chiesa website, where his latest essay brings together all the sundry issues here, from Prada to the motu proprio, and puts them in a larger context with the help of the pontiff’s own MC, Msgr. Guido Marini. Whether one welcomes these developments or fears them is a pretty good gut check for where you stand on this papacy, and Vatican II, and the foreseeable future of the church.

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posted June 28, 2008 at 12:36 am

The red shoes are an ancient tradition, going back to the times of the Roman emperors who wore red shoes. In those days in ancient Rome shoe color designated position. Red was reserved for the emperor and a very few others. Today of course anyone can wear red shoes. Maybe Pope Benedict just likes red shoes; who knows?

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posted June 30, 2008 at 5:29 pm

I am curious, what is your opinion of this article that appeared last weekend?
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Wearing ornate liturgical vestments symbolizes the spiritual transformation of the person wearing the clothes, not his love of fashion, the Vatican newspaper said. “The priest does not choose such ornaments because of an aesthetic vice — he does it to put on the new clothes of Christ,” said an article in the June 26 edition of L’Osservatore Romano. Liturgical vestments represent “dressing oneself anew in Christ” in which the priest “transcends his identity to become someone else,” to become one with Christ through a process of interior transformation and inner renewal, it said. “The pope, in short, does not wear Prada, but Christ,” it said. The article was written by Spanish novelist Juan Manuel de Prada, who is not related to the Milanese Prada fashion company he mentions in the critique. It presents a harsh reproach against the way some media have “trivialized” Pope Benedict XVI’s sartorial styles.
I dont have a problem with the Pope choosing the vestments that he feels exemplify his personal office. But, on the other hand, I have to wonder, do the archbishops really need a 20′ silk train? If so, what is the transcendent quality they have attained that the train is supposed to symbolize?
It appears to me to me that this article is similar to the press releases we see from various goverments when they attempt to legitimize questionable activities. Is this an attempt to legitimize vestment choices and to silence criticism about the opulence of their attire? Or, is there a legitimate issue hidden within the rhetoric that I’m not seeing?

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posted July 5, 2008 at 1:03 pm

I investigated this issue on my own blog about two years ago. Anyone interested in a more fulsome discussion can check it out here:

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