VATICAN CITY – Whether it’s Prada and Gucci, or just fancy ecclesiastical tailoring, Pope Benedict XVI is his own man when it comes to dressing.
Just days before Christmas, Benedict showed up at his weekly public audience in St. Peter’s Square wearing a fur-trimmed stocking cap that could have passed for a Santa Claus hat. Called a “caumaro,” the long forgotten head-covering dates back to the Middle Ages and figures in many famous papal portraits, including one of Julius II by Raphael.
Earlier this month, he made another fashion statement – donning a red velvet cape trimmed in ermine for the traditional papal visit to the statue of the Madonna near the Spanish Steps that marks the beginning of Rome’s Christmas season.
Coming after gossip about his wearing Gucci sunglasses and bright red Prada loafers, the vintage styles have turned Benedict into something of a fashion celebrity.
“Those red shoes have made quite an impression,” said Vatican historian Alberto Melloni.