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Friday, December 23, 2005

The Pope's Red Hat!

VATICAN CITY Dec 22, 2005 — Whether it's Prada and Gucci, or just fancy ecclesiastical tailoring, Pope Benedict XVI is his own man when it comes to dressing. Just days before Christmas, Benedict showed up at his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square wearing a fur-trimmed stocking cap that could have passed for a Santa Claus hat.

Earlier this month, he made another fashion statement donning a red velvet cape trimmed in ermine for the traditional papal visit to the statue of the Madonna near the Spanish Steps that marks the beginning of Rome's Christmas season.

Coming after gossip about his wearing Gucci sunglasses and bright red Prada loafers, the vintage styles have turned Benedict into something of a fashion celebrity.

"Those red shoes have made quite an impression," said Vatican historian Alberto Melloni.

Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, had no use for fancy papal attire. Most often he put on the basic white cassock and white gold-trimmed sash. In winter, however, he enjoyed a crimson wool cloak trimmed in gold braid, at times allowing children to play hide and seek in its deep folds.

The 78-year-old Benedict lacks John Paul's natural charisma, and the trappings of Vatican splendor may be a way to compensate.

The bright red Santa cap certainly has a distinguished papal pedigree.

Called a "caumaro," the long forgotten head-covering dates back to the Middle Ages and figures in many famous papal portraits, including one of Julius II by Raphael. It was last worn by John XXIII, who was pontiff more than 40 years ago.

The velvet cape called a "mozzetta" has also been part of official papal attire, but hadn't been seen since John XXIII's successor, Paul VI, in the 1970s. With its regal trimming, it is reminiscent of a time of papal political power some prefer to relegate to history books.

But those who know Joseph Ratzinger from his years as head of the Vatican's doctrinal office dismiss any notion of vanity in the new pope's dressing habits.

"He wouldn't know Gucci from Smoochi," said Marjorie Weeke, a former official at the Vatican's Social Communications office.

News from the Vatican!

VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, following the annual pre-Christmas Mass for Roman university students, celebrated in the Vatican by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope arrived in the basilica to greet the students. The tradition of celebrating this Mass dates back to Servant of God John Paul II, who upheld the custom throughout the 26 years of his pontificate.

Benedict XVI greeted the rectors, professors, chaplains and students from Italian universities, as well as student delegations from various European and African countries, and participants in a world congress for the pastoral care of foreign students, which is being promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

"Continue your reflections," said the Pope in his address, "on the new humanism, bearing in mind the great challenges of modern times and seeking to bring faith and culture together harmoniously. How important it is at this moment in history to cultivate attentive cultural and spiritual research!"

The Holy Father expressed his contentment at the fact that the five faculties of medicine in Rome have agreed to collaborate in certain fields concerning life, adding: "From a pastoral perspective, I appreciate the decision to dedicate more profound consideration to the theme of transmitting the faith, with a formative path that involves both students and teachers."

The Holy Father then called on young people "to follow joyfully the itinerary of your Christian formation," and to associate it with their daily studies. "It is necessary to rediscover the beauty of having Christ as the Master of one's life, and thus freely and consciously renewing one's own profession of faith."

Turning to consider foreign students, the Pope pointed out how young people leaving their country of origin in order to study "face no small number of problems, especially the risk of a crisis of identity, and of a loss of spiritual and moral values However, he went on, "for many young people the chance to study abroad represents a unique opportunity ... to contribute to the development of their own countries, and to participate actively in the mission of the Church. It is important to continue on the journey we have begun in order to meet the needs of these brothers and sisters of ours."

With reference to the forthcoming Christmas celebrations, Benedict XVI made a call "to grasp the fullness of the message with which this feast presents us. God became Man, He came to dwell among us. Let us prepare our hearts to welcome Him Who came to save us by giving His life."

The Holy Father concluded: "May you be guided by Mary Most Holy, 'Sedes Sapientiae.' Her icon, which is being taken around various nations, is now passing from the Polish to the Bulgarian delegation, to continue her 'peregrinatio' in the university cities. May she, the faithful Virgin, Mother of Christ, obtain for each of you and for your academic institutions the light of divine Knowledge, Christ the Lord."


What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

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