The pope's clothes are infused with history and symbolism.
of the vestments have been worn by popes through the ages, each new
bishop of Rome puts his own spin on the classics.
In the decades since the Second Vatican Council ended in 1962, the popes
have significantly dressed down, eschewing much of the gold and finery
their predecessors routinely wore.
The last pope, Benedict XVI,
however, put his own mark on the clothes he wore both day-to-day and
for special occasions, restoring long-lost hats and capes and adding a
bold touch of color.
The tall folded hat worn by popes and other bishops is called a mitre,
and is an ancient symbol of priestly authority.
Mitre's come in several
styles: simplex or simple, made of white linen or silk; pretiosa or
precious, adorned in precious stones; and auriphrygiata or gold (seen
here) made of gold cloth or white cloth with a gold fringe, typically
worn during celebrations.
Benedict was known for wearing mitres that
were taller and often more colorful taller than his predecessor John
The pallium is a thin woolen shawl worn during mass and on special
occasions. It covers the pope's shoulders and extends down the length of
In the West, the pallium has typically been symmetrical,
running down the center of the popes body.
occasionally wore an asymmetrical Eastern-style pallium, which some
interpreted as a symbol of his efforts to mend relations with Eastern
Another once-forgotten vestment Benedict dug up from the back of the
papal closet is a red-velvet cap with white ermine fringe called a
Reminiscent of Santa's hat, the camauro is worn only by the
pope and only in the winter, in place of the typical zucchetto skull cap
worn by bishops and cardinals.
Like the mortarboard caps worn by
graduates, hats similar to the camauro were once also worn by medieval
Most senior clergy wear a short elbow length cape called a mozzetta, but
the pope has five distinct styles that only he can wear.
vestments, only the pope can wear white mozzettas, and only his come
trimmed with ermine fur in the winter.
The pope historically wore red shoes festooned with a large gold cross
or gold buckle when walking outside, all the better for kissing.
Following Vatican II, Pope Paul XVI kept the red shoes but ditched the
buckles in the 1960s and ultimately nixed foot kissing altogether.
successive popes wore red shoes but one, John Paul II, who wore brown
Benedict XVI reinstated the red shoes, getting his loafers made
by a Peruvian-born shoemaker in Rome named Antonio Arellano.
From the eighth century to the middle of the 20th, popes were coronated
wearing an ornate three-tiered crown called a tiara.
Like many of the
finer vestments, tiaras went out of style following Vatican II and a
decree by Paul VI.
Paul actually renounced a special tiara made
especially for him by the city of Milan, which he wore only once briefly
at his coronation.
The last tiara was auctioned, and purchased by
American Catholics and is on display at the Basilica of the National
Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
No popes have worn a tiara since
1963, but the new pope could restore the tradition.