Martedì, 18 Settembre 2018
ROME

Red shoes made to order as signature for pope

English
© ANSA

Rome, February 22 - Like the tall, golden mitre on
his head, and his flowing white cassock, the pope's soft red
leather shoes have become an immediately recognizable part of
the papal ensemble.
And those shoes have become one of the trademarks of
Italian craftsman Adriano Stefanelli, who is now saying goodbye
to the second pope he is proud to have created shoes for.
Though controversial, the pope's red shoes have also made
him something of a fashion leader, even appearing in the pages
of Esquire men's magazine in the United States as an "accessory
of the year".
Stefanelli, who works in the northern city of Novara near
Milan, first came to the Vatican's attention in 2002, when he
sent a pair of his handmade red shoes to Pope John Paul II.
That pope, who died in 2005 and was replaced by Pope
Benedict XVI, was so impressed by the craftsmanship that he
became a customer of Stefanelli.
That added further lustre to the list of Stefanelli's most
famous clients, which includes US President Barack Obama, former
American president George W. Bush, Polish president and human
rights activist Lech Walesa, and Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero
di Montezemolo.
Stefanelli even specially designed a pair of shoes boasting
the AC Milan soccer team's crest for ex-premier Silvio
Berlusconi, who is president of the soccer club.
Stefanelli, who works with Italian leather, calls himself
an "ambassador to the world of the 'Made in Italy' trademark".
Stefanelli recalls his first contact with the ailing Pope
John Paul II, who the shoemaker saw collapse during a televised
walk following the Way of the Cross.
"It all began during a Via Crucis, where Pope John Paul II
almost fainted on live TV, and then I asked what I could do to
alleviate his suffering," recalls Stefanelli.
"I decided to give him a pair of shoes and the Vatican
asked me to continue the collaboration with Benedict XVI".
Stefanelli says he has made a total of five pairs of shoes
during the reign of the present pope, Benedict XVI, who has
announced his retirement effective February 28.
The last pair of shoes for Benedict were delivered last
August to the pope's summer residence just south of Rome at
Castel Gandolfo, "and for me it was a special feeling," said
Stefanelli.
He was even called in last year to replace shoes that had
been affixed to the remains of Pope Pius IX, who died in 1878.
His footwear had been destroyed in flooding in a Vatican crypt.
"The company that took care of the restoration work asked
me to make a pair of shoes similar to the original," and so
Stefanelli created a pair of burgundy velvet brogues.

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