Holy shirt! A set of Pope Francis’ old papal vestments, signed ‘Francesco’ in black marker, are auctioned


Remember when Rihanna dressed up as the Pope for the Costume Institute Gala at the Met Museum in 2018? Her bead-encrusted rendition of papal vestments riffed on the opulence of the attire worn by the head of the Catholic Church, albeit with more cleavage and exposed thighs.

Now, an altogether simpler view of papal life is on offer with Heritage Auctions through July 16. An anonymous sender is selling Pope Francis’ official attire: the plain cassock and silk skullcap were custom-made by the pope’s favorite Roman tailor and worn by Francis are sold online.

Both garments were signed by Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church since 2013, in black felt with his name in Italian, “Francesco”. A YouTube video shared by the sender from last summer shows the Pope autographing the two coins. The lot is accompanied by two certificates signed by the Pope’s private secretary, Don Fabio Salerno, confirming that the garments have been signed by the pontiff.

The opening bid for the attire, which is worn daily by the pope outside of liturgical functions, is set at $25,000 ($31,250 with buyer’s premium). Heritage will donate half of the purchase premium from this sale to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Personal cassock and zucchini of Pope Francis signed by His Holiness. Image heritage auctions.

The cassock and skullcap are in “beautiful condition,” the Texas-based auctioneer said on its website, “with only a few spotty instances of soiling along the border and hem.” The clothes are “perhaps the most recognizable look of the modern pope,” added the auctioneer.

The cassock now available on Heritage Auctions is made from “superfine luxury merino wool” supplied by Holland and Sherry, in Savile Row, London, according to the auctioneers’ website. It was designed by Raniero Mancinelli, whose eponymous boutique in Rome is just outside the walls of Vatican City.

Although the pope’s official tailor is Gammarelli, a clothing manufacturer established in 1798, Pope Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, preferred Mancinelli’s workmanship during his term as pontiff; Pope Francis followed his sartorial example.

“I’ve dressed Benedict since he was a cardinal, so when he became pope he came straight to me,” Raniero Mancinelli told Artnet News. “When Francis came to see me after his election, he asked me to simplify certain small details of the cassock when I redesigned it for him; he didn’t care about the frills at all. Despite this, the overall shape of the garment has remained “essentially unchanged for at least 100 years,” Mancinelli said.

The papal custom of wearing white vestments for everyday use during downtime dates back to Pope Pius V, who ruled the Catholic Church from 1566 to 1572. A Dominican monk before his selection for the highest office, Pius V continued to wear the white robe. of his order after his election as Pope. The tradition remained.

The papal preference for all-white garments comes with some challenges. “The cassock gets dirty very easily and requires regular cleaning; it also wears out easily,” Mancinelli said, adding that he had made several versions of the garment, with different materials for different seasons, for both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.

But who will buy the outfit? Most Catholics would balk at the thought of wearing papal vestments, so a Catholic buyer might choose to donate the cassock and skullcap to a church or small museum. Anyone else would be free to wear the clothes, if they wished.

When asked if it would be disrespectful for a buyer to don an actual papal cassock, Mancinelli joked, “If you want a papal cassock, come straight to me. I’ll make you one; business is business.”

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