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We have a new pope! Pope Francis! Formerly Cardinal Jorge Marie Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aries!
Today is the great feast of the Chair of Peter! Christ passed the authority of his Church here on earth to St. Peter and to the successors of St. Peter. (And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matt 16:18) The Chair of Peter, recognizes the authority St. Peter and his successors. (More theologically minded friends feel free to correct me if I am wrong!) Today’s feast is particularly thrilling in light of the fact that in a short time there will be a new Pope sitting on the chair before Easter.
The picture above shows the requilary of the Chair of Peter (the actual chair is under the grate of the large baroque chair) in St. Peter’s Basilica. You can’t see it in this picture, but whole altar is covered in candle holders for huge tapers – I think the candles they use must be a yard tall each. Today all these tapers will be put in their place and lit. It is a beautiful sight! What you also can’t tell is just how big this altar is – that chair in the middle is huge! I once got to see the workers at St. Peter’s cleaning the altar, two grown men can fit in the sit of that chair and it still dwarfs them.
So, one of the top searches that bring people to my blog is the phrase: what to wear in the Vatican. Sounds like there are a lot of people taking trips to the Holy See! I am so jealous! But, then I realized, I know what you are supposed to wear in the Vatican! I can tell you! I lived next to the Vatican walls for three years, and I went into St. Peter’s Basilica every other day!
Women: You may not wear: shorts, mini skirts or skirts that come too far above the knee, sleeveless shirts, or plunging necklines. If you wear any of these things you will not be allowed to enter, or you will be handed a paper dress thing that will ruin any photo of you inside St. Peter’s Basilica. So I suggest that you wear: trousers, skirts or dresses that come to the knee and bring a sweater for your shoulders. If you are wearing a plunging neckline I suggest you button that sweater up. Of if it is too hot for a sweater bring a pashmina shawl, I always kept one in my purse while I lived in Italy. They are lightweight and can cover your shoulders if necessary.
Ladies, if you have the privilege to meet with the Pope, and you are American, please note that you should wear: a dress or suit of a dark color, preferably black. Make sure the skirt of the dress comes to your knees and that your shoulders are covered. You may add a black mantilla, if you would like. White mantillas and dresses are reserved for Catholic monarchs and brides. If you are attending an audience to have your marriage blessed by the Pope you may wear your wedding dress, but remember to bring a shrug if your dress is strapless as your shoulders should be covered. Finally, if you are not American you may either wear what I have suggested or the traditional dress attire of your country. (I always loved seeing the Japanese when they attended papal events, their Kimonos were so lovely.)
Men: You may not wear: shorts, tank tops, or wife beaters. You will not be allowed inside St. Peter’s. You also will be handed a paper gown and you will wear it over your current attire, or sit outside. I suggest you wear: trousers and an Oxford or polo shirt. Wearing athletic socks with dress shoes is also strictly forbidden. (Okay, okay, not really. But it was worth a try. Besides, you’re in Italy, they have amazing haberdashery at your fingertips, why would you resort to athletic socks when something like this is available in a nearby shop?) Also remember that if you are male, your hat needs to come off your head when you walk through the door of any church. Wearing a head covering inside a Catholic church is a privilege only women and members of hierarchy may claim if they so choose.
Gentlemen, if you have the privilege to meet the Pope, and you are American, a dark suit is in order. If you are not American you may either wear what I have suggested or the traditional dress attire of your country.