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Why the pope dresses like that

The hidden meaning behind Pope Francis’s clothes.

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The pope is one of the most recognizable figures in the world, in large part because of the clothes he wears: all white, ornate ponchos, various hats. But all popes don’t actually dress alike. There are different articles of clothing that correspond to different events and times of year, and there is a certain amount of personal choice involved.

Pope Francis has made waves across the Catholic Church with his relatively progressive, modern takes on church doctrine and tradition, and his clothing is a visual shorthand for those policies.

To learn more about the history of papal clothing, see The Church Visible: the ceremonial life and protocol of the Roman Catholic Church by James-Charles Noonan https://archive.org/details/churchvisiblecer0000noon

For a deep dive about Pope Francis’s visit to Lampedusa, check out Making Immigrants Visible in Lampedusa: Pope Francis, Migration, and the State by Tina Catania https://www.academia.edu/18158629/Making_Immigrants_Visible_in_Lampedusa_Pope_Francis_Migration_and_the_State

And to look at a whole range of Catholic and Catholic-inspired clothing, see the catalog for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2018 exhibit Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2018/heavenly-bodies

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