This season: it’s not just the devil wearing Prada

Pope Benedict XVI, who earlier this year became the first pontiff to feature in his own official calendar, may just be the world’s most unlikely fashion icon.

The pontiff has recently been pegged as something of a “clotheshorse” as these fabulous red Prada loafers demonstrate.

But the fashion doesn’t stop at his feet. The Pope’s watch is believed to be a Cartier, as are his reading glasses. He’s even been seen wearing Gucci Sunglasses. The Vatican says all the designer items the Pope has worn were presents and don’t conflict with the church’s doctrine.

But now the Pope’s penchant for designer clothing is reportedly causing tensions in the Vatican with plans to fire the tailors who have been making papal clothing since 1792.

In what is being called the “cassock wars,” Benedict is said to be favouring his tailor from his days as cardinal, Alessandro Cattaneo, and the 20-year-old religious-fashion house of Raniero Mancinelli, which has provided the pope with some lavish and intricate vestments to date.

Last December, Benedict showed up at his weekly public audience in St. Peter’s Square wearing a fur-trimmed stocking cap and red velvet cape trimmed in ermine, his Christmas message urging people to denounce the materialistic nature of the holiday season. He said:

“In today’s consumer society, this time of the year unfortunately suffers from a
sort of commercial ‘pollution’ that threatens to alter its real spirit,”

Robe-maker Annibale Gammarelli has angrily denied that his services were no longer being used.

“This is an ungracious falsehood,” he said. “We are always in contact with the
apartment of the Holy Father. Perhaps there was only an occasional gift by some
friend of the Pontiff.”

The company’s first papal client was Pius VI, a man renowned for his vanity and frequently lampooned for his narcissism. This interesting coincidence has led me to question: Are we facing a return to the excessive and fantastic Popes that line the history books? We all knew that there’s something slightly less wholesome and charismatic about Pope Benedict XVI (compared to the delightfully pious John Paul II) when we first laid eyes on him…Much like how we all know that 10 minutes of witty gibes and a cocktail with Bill Clinton would be enough to reduce us to mush (regardless of sexual orientation), while a date with Bush Junior would be plagued by at least seventeen bouts of nervous laughter and accidental touchings of the forearm before his successor had even pulled out our chair.

After all, can you imagine Pope John Paul II stepping delicately down the steps of St.Peter’s in anything other than his preferred Polish-made faded brown loafers?

Legend has it (and we all know that all historically sound sentences begin with that beautiful cliché) that three popes have died during sex, two have been Jewish and one was discovered, post-coronation, to be a woman.* Are a pair of Prada slip-ons merely first step towards a life of sex, Judaism and eh, transvestism for Pope Benedict?? Most certainly not.

Surely the Pope is entitled to a nice ceremonial robe here and there but for some reason, I’m finding it difficult to remove visions of Pope Leo X, gorging himself in a pile of jewels and naked wives from my mind.

(*The since dismissed myth of “Pope Joan” tells of an English woman who disguised her gender to gain entry into the priesthood. Her identity is said to have been revealed when she bore a child during a procession through Rome.)

What better way to spend the sabbath than googling the words “pope facts”, eh?

If, like me, you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that, due to circumstances both beyond and well encompassed within your control, you probably never will lay claim to the Holy See, use your Sunday to enjoy such non-pope approved activities as publishing racy photos of yourself on the Internet or taking the Good Lord’s name in vain.

If, unlike me, you think you could still be in with a chance, start choosing your papal name now. Once they approach you, you’ll only have a few seconds to think about it… calling yourself Pope Ubiquitous Clipart could mean a Papal career of shame and embarrassment. This website should help:

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