Le vesti dei Papi I parati della Sacrestia Pontificia (Papal dress and the apparel worn in the Papal Sacristy) is a book written by Professor Marzia Cataldi Gallo, a scholar of international renown, who specialises in the field of old textiles and the history of costume.
This is the first work that presents the rich
heritage of the Papal Sacristy, located behind the Sistine Chapel.
The Sacristy’s spacious chestnut wardrobes hide
treasures that have been woven and embroidered over the centuries: from
the garments worn by Paul V Borghese (1605-1621) to the pieces worn by
the Pope today.
The papal vestments make for an incredibly rich heritage
that remains unknown to date, especially the papal outfits which are
sporadically published in books discussing golden and silver
furnishings or occasionally shown in exhibitions.
The first book on the
topic gives readers the chance to experience two centuries of papal and
The study of preserved vestments is combined with
the analysis of a number of archived documents that reveal the
importance of the old outfits and the various stories that led to their
preservation or destruction.
The analysis of thoroughly kept inventories
and account books made it possible to reconstruct the identities and
activities of many artists and artisans: embroiderers, the “banderari” –
middle class artisans who tailored the vestments and the merchants who
supplied the finest materials.
All these individuals worked in the
service of each respective Pope over the centuries, producing
embroidered garments that were then copied all over Europe.
The archive documents are illuminating as they
provide accounts of life in the Papal household.
On the one hand they
reveal information about the considerable expenses incurred and on the
other, they show the “recycling” which took place, through the common
tradition of Popes re-using their predecessor’s coat of arms, to save on
Besides the papal vestments, other components of the Popes’
“daily” dress were also analysed.
In particular the superb white
cassocks of the Blessed Pope Innocent XI (1676-1689). More that one
century since the last complete inventory was made in 1906, this
extraordinary and previously unknown heritage is finally revealed.
is also thanks to the precious help of the photographic equipment
In a statement to Vatican Insider, the author of
the book said: “My desire to carry out this research grew after 30 years
of working in the Ligurian sacristies, as a conservator for Liguria’s
Regional Board of Artistic and Historical Heritage. My work
involved cataloguing and restoring a great number of liturgical
vestments (as well as other pieces of art of course). But my passion for
old textiles and the history of costume goes back a while before this.”
Mrs. Cataldi Gallo who worked as a civil servant
(1984-2008) and head of Liguria’s Regional Board of Artistic and
Historical Heritage (2003-2006) commented on the photographic equipment
that was of great help to her in this splendid reconstruction, saying:
“The photos I used in my study were invaluable in helping me weave my
way through the various parameters and in trying to work out which pontificate each piece of clothing belonged to. Daria Vinco’s beautiful photos are vital in presenting this unknown heritage to the public.”