Pope Francis arrived in the Philippines today for a five-day visit, with the country’s more than 80 million Roman Catholics eager to greet His Holiness. It’s likely the Pope will be on his feet most of the time in his now-signature black shoes, a far fashion cry from the traditional red ones worn by his predecessor.
The new Pope is known for doing things his own way, most notably leading a down-to-earth lifestyle free of the frills more commonly associated with his position in the church. His wardrobe is no exception.
While his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was noted for wearing the traditional bright ruby red footwear of his position — with rumors that they were made for Benedict by tony Italian fashion house Prada — Pope Francis prefers to keep things simple. Instead, he’s chosen the simple black shoes associated with those of a priest, shunning the practice of wearing red, the color commemorating the blood of martyrdom.
Pope Francis isn’t the only pope in recent times who has broken with footwear tradition, however. Pope John Paul II was known to wear simple brown leather loafers made in his native Poland.
Since the 16th century, the pope’s slippers were typically handmade in red satin and embroidered with gold thread. Pope Benedict’s were made for him by a cobbler in the Borgo, a series of medieval streets near the Vatican.
Pope Francis isn’t just toning it down when it comes to his shoes. He’s also opted to shed the fancy garments worn by Pope Benedict XVI, wearing plain papal whites instead.
So far, the maker of the pope’s shoes has been kept under wraps. But it’s more than likely that an Italian craftsman is behind them. And while the pope no longer has to commute to work on the bus, it’s more than likely his shoes rate high on the comfort meter.