There are many labels that one could possibly affix to the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, but there is one designation that might seem a bit peculiar to most people: fashion icon. Since his appointment as the head of the Vatican, Pope Francis Ihas bucked all public expectations regarding his image by choosing to dress himself in simpler and more modest religious vestments as opposed to the elaborate regalia worn by his predecessors. Indeed, such maverick sartorialism has led the Pope to be hailed as Esquire Magazine’s Best Dressed Man for 2013.
But while Pope Francis may not have expected this kind of response to his remarkably low-key style, the influence he has sparked among other members of the Catholic Church is slowly beginning to take shape, particularly with the College of Cardinals. Recently, Pope Francis has inducted the first batch of new cardinals under his reign; these nineteen newly ordained “princes of the Church” hailing from all over the world, from Asia to South America. During the induction ceremony, the Pope urged the new cardinals with this special missive: "I will tell you what the Church needs: she needs you, your cooperation and even more your communion. The Church needs your courage [and] compassion, especially at this time of pain and suffering for so many countries throughout the world."
Traditionally, cardinals are noted for their distinct head-to-toe scarlet ensemble: from the silk skull cap to bright red socks, with a white lace embroidered surplice known as a rochet worn over the red cassock and underneath the mozzetta, or shoulder cape. This look is particularly essential whenever the Holy See inducts new members into the College of Cardinals, and given Pope Francis’s preference for less ostentatious garb even during the most important of holy events and gatherings, clergy members are likely to follow His Holiness’ lead and dress in a manner that still represents their ascended position within the clergy hierarchy but with a decidedly subtle touch.
Raniero Mancinelli, an Italian tailor who has been outfitting Vatican popes and cardinals since the 1960s, has commented on the unexpected style influence that Pope Francis has exuded to his fellow men of the cloth. He notes: “The cardinals and priests are much more careful of shining and spend less on their clothes. The gilded miters are only in shop windows. This is a consequence of Francis. They want to show they are on the same pastoral page." Such is the “Francis effect” that other notable religious outfitters in Italy have considerably changed tactics and began offering quality vestments for relatively cheaper prices, as opposed to sticking expensive price tags on the garments.
And we here at Churchgoers are certainly taking notes from Pope Francis’s style book. Not only do we showcase a diverse and high-quality range of timeless robes, cassocks, albs, and other religious vestments for dedicated members of the clergy—we are also offering our stylish catalogue for relatively affordable prices! So if you’re an active priest or pastor looking to the Pope as your fashion inspiration, Churchgoers is here to make your worship beautiful for less.