The Pope’s Red Shoes

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The wearing of red papal shoes (then “sandals”) dates back to the earliest times of the Church.  However, in 1566 St. Pope Pius V, a White Dominican, decided to change the papal vestments from red to white leaving only the Pope’s cappello (a wide circular brimmed hat), cape and shoes the color red.  Usually elaborate, the leather soled, less structured papal “slippers” of the time were made of red satin and silk along with gold thread and embroidered ruby encrusted crosses. 

Until the first half of the 20th century, it was customary for pilgrims having an audience with the Pope to kneel and kiss one of his slippers.  Similar to many of noblemen of the time, the Pope also wore red slippers inside his residences and red Morocco leather shoes outside.  Centuries later, Pope Paul VI decided to update his footwear and eventually discontinued the use of “slippers” altogether in favor of sturdy red shoes for both indoor and outdoor use.

Throughout Church history, the color red has been deliberately chosen to represent the blood of Catholic martyrs spilt through the centuries following in the footsteps of Christ.  The red papal shoes are also linked to Christ’s own bloodied feet as he was prodded, whipped, and pushed along the Via Dolorosa on his way to his crucifixion, culminating in the piercing of his hands and feet on the cross.  The red shoes also symbolize the submission of the Pope to the ultimate authority of Jesus Christ.  Beyond this, it is said the red papal shoes also signify God’s burning love for humanity as exhibited during Pentecost when red vestments are worn to commemorate the decent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles as tongues of fire rest upon their heads.

From: “Red Shoes and the Room of Tears” by Judy Keane      http://catholicexchange.com/red-shoes-and-the-room-of-tears

 Photo source:    http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/mar/12/why-pope-wears-red-shoes/

Pedestrian Strolls and Promenades in Italy

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“The magic of the street is the mingling of the errand and the epiphany, and no such gardens seem to have flourished in Italy, perhaps because they were unneeded.  For the Italian pre-dinner stroll – the passaggiata – many towns close down their main streets to wheeled traffic. The street is the pivotal social space, for meeting, debating, courting, buying and selling.” 

      Quoted from: Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, pp. 178-179.  http://www.amazon.com/Wanderlust-History-Walking-Rebecca-Solnit/dp/0140286012

Solnit quotes Edwin Denby: “In ancient Italian towns the narrow main street at dusk becomes a kind of theatre.  The community strolls affably and looks itself over.  The girls and the young men, from fifteen to twenty-two, display their charm to one another with lively sociability. The more grace they show the better the community likes them. In Florence or in Naples, in the ancient city slums the young people are virtuoso performers and they do a bit of promenading anytime they are not busy.”  Of young Romans, he wrote, “Their stroll is as responsive as if it were a physical conversation.”

 

      Solnit’s quote from:  “In ancient Italian town the narrow main street”: Edwin Denby, Dancers, Buildings and People in the Streets, introduction by Frank O’Hara (New York: Horizon Press, 1965), 183.

 

Photo Source:   https://www.google.com/search?q=florence+passeggiata+images&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=iwQFU6LrMpCFogSF84LAAw&ved=0CCQQsAQ&biw=1366&bih=566