Pope Benedict XVI has stepped down from his role as head of the Catholic Church.  And speaking of stepping… just look at his shoes! Throughout his papacy, he has sported some pretty flashy kicks. I’m a Pedorthist (certified to fit shoes and make custom orthotics), so I am always looking at people’s footwear.

It never occurred to me to think about what kind of shoes a Pope wears until today.

It turns out that they wear RED SHOES! Isn’t that awesome?

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So I immediately scoured the internet and dug up some info on the Pope’s shoes (keep in mind, I just found these facts online – they might not be infallible Gospel truth…little Biblical joke, get it?)

Here’s what I discovered:

–          Pope’s shoes have traditionally been made out of red leather. It’s a symbol of ruling power and possibly representative of martyr’s blood, St. Peter’s in particular. Red shoes are also worn by the Dalai Lama.

–          There are 2 kinds of shoes that a Pope wears: Papal Shoes and Papal Slippers. He wears the slippers indoors and to Mass. He wears the shoes when he is outdoors (which isn’t often…)

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–          John Paul II, the previous Pope, chose not to wear the traditional red shoes most of the time. He chose plain old black or brown.

–          At one point, it was erroneously reported that Pope Benedict’s red shoes were made by Prada and many people were outraged by this extravagancy. But it turns out that they are hand crafted by a Peruvian Cordwainer (that’s the proper term form someone who makes shoes). The shoe maker’s name is Arellano; he came to Italy in the ‘90s and set up a shop near the Vatican.

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–          Before Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger Aloisius became Pope Benedict XVI, he regularly took his shoes to Arellano’s shop to be repaired.  And that’s how it all started.

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–          Now that Pope Benedict is no longer the Pope, he has to stop wearing his famous red slippers. He is trading them in for a plain brown pair of loafers that were given to him during his travels in Mexico last year.

Off topic, but interesting: the pope also is required to give up his official Twitter account and the protection of the Swiss Guard….I wonder what kind of shoes they wear…

–          Benedict’s shoes were so stylish that he was named “accessorizer of the year” in 2007 by Esquire magazine.

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–          I wonder what kind of shoes the next Pope will wear? And if he needs orthotics will they be red also? Hmm…orthopedic papal footwear – there’s a concept for you.

To finish off, here is a funny clip about the Pope’s shoes. As you now will be able to recognize, it is entirely factually inaccurate. (And slightly irreverent…no disrespect intended, please nobody get riled up)


Walk well.

All info and pictures from: