He’s been hailed as the Pope of Firsts, and is considered by many to be a symbol of hope and rejuvenation for the Vatican. Others, more cynically, have questioned his moral integrity amidst claims that he betrayed two priests to the murderous Argentinian dictatorship in 1979. Others believe he’s the Antichrist.
Whatever mixed vibes you get from Pope Francis I, as the windows opened out into St Peter’s square for his first Angelus last Sunday, at least one thing was Christ-al clear: God’s mortal mouthpiece has some serious style. Speaking in Italian rather than Latin, His Grace (formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio) looked the incarnation of understated elegance as he chatted with the crowd, even ad-libbing at one stage during the prayer. OMG!
Since his appointment as Pope, there have been several reports on Bergoglio’s break with tradition, and what The Guardian has described as his “down-to-earth” style of preaching. On Sunday, it was easy to see how Pope Francis, 76, also expressed this relaxed, down-to-earth attitude through his dress sense. A nod to tradition and his 264 predecessors, the devout demi-deity dazzled in a demure white gown with a chic matching cap. Other accessories were kept to a minimum, presumably to let the cut of the robe, and the word of God, do the talking. This simple look contrasts with that of uptight papal has-been Joseph Ratzinger, the late fashion darling of the Vatican, who was spotted sporting red and gold at his resignation ceremony last month. Some have described the sassy red shade as “tainted cardinal.” In any case, it’s officially last season.
Pope Francis also proved his status as a man of the people, and one concerned with current affairs, by snapping up this season’s must-have: an edgy crucifix necklace. He paired this with cool thin-frame glasses and a devil-may-care smile. Considering His Holiness’ bone structure, some style critics might be doubtful as to whether the glasses were a wise decision. But, in true papal fashion, Francis appeared to be unaware of any raised eyebrows. Putting an infallible fashion-foot forward, he topped off the look with some simple black leather slippers. Elegant monochrome is evidently back in time for April.
But while this look is to die for, and in keeping with the church’s motto: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,”* friar fashionistas have argued that Francis is taking the relaxed approach too far. After all, Sunday was not the first time we’d seen this get-up: he donned the exact same outfit for his first outing as Pope only four days earlier! Eeeeek! Style sin alert! It looks like His Grace is in dire need of some divine fashion inspiration. With a series of papal outings on the horizon for the European summer, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that he gets it, and keeps us hooked with a host of heavenly new looks.
* Very free Latin translation.