Monday, March 11, 2013

Scarpe Diem

Pope Pius X
served: 1903-1914

Scarpe Diem, was the name of a shoe store that used to be on the Upper West Side, and it always made me smile when I walked by. And you know what they say, "If the name fits …"

When Pope Benedict XVI recently took the historic step down from the papacy, he also had to step out of the papal red shoes. Which got me wondering. What becomes of the shoes! Was there, somewhere in the nether reaches of the Vatican, the entire history of the papacy in footwear? I could so clearly picture a long hallway or even an entire room fitted with bespoke cabinetry and vitrines for the purpose. Well, no such luck. It seems that assorted pairs of red shoes and slippers (for inside wear) worn by past pontiffs reside in various collections and museums around the world. 

While our most recent popes have opted for classic minimalism in footwear, that wasn’t always the case. So as the world eagerly awaits the puff of white smoke, let’s take a look at some of the shoes the next pope will have to fill.

served: 1775-1799

served: 1800-1823

served: 1878-1903

served: 1958-1963

served: 1963-1978

These next two images are from the site of Dieter Philippi. He has collected a fascinating array of religious headwear and also maintains a very informative website which includes much information about all things papal (clothing, shoes, eyeglasses, dishes) and their makers. You can read about the family shop which might at this very moment be putting the finishing touches on the shoes and robes (they prepare three sizes) that the new pope will don immediately upon his appointment.

Pope John Paul II
I love these ecclesiastical stockings as a found palette.
KEY: white=pope, red=cardinals, magenta=bishops, black=priests

The rest of the shoes below, are the work of Adriano Stefanelli. The shoemaker from Novara, a city near Milan, started making shoes for Pope John Paul II. Though JPII had a full wardrobe of red shoes and slippers, he decided to drop the custom as he preferred to wear humbler brown shoes. Stefanelli's relationship with the Vatican continued through the term of Benedict XVI, for whom he made five pairs. 

Pope John Paul II

Pope Benedict XVI
served: 2005-2013

served: 1846-1878
Stefanelli made these replacement shoes for the remains of Pope Pius IX, whose crypt was severely damaged in a flood.

Rabbi Dov Beer Riger HaCohen, Admor of Malta

Stefanelli has made shoes for leaders of five religions, including the Chief Rabbi of Malta (above) who ordered three pairs. It's hard to know if it was a case of buy-one-get-one-free, or if the rabbi purposely bought in bulk to avoid paying retail.

As you can imagine, this 'shoemaker to the stars' has crafted footwear for numerous heads of state and a multitude of other luminaries. The slippers below, were for Michelle Obama.

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