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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Nightline Last Night: Making the Pope's Frocks

As I said below, I really liked Nightline last night, so much so that I just bought the transcript. The whole program was incredible (more on Bill Blakemore in Poland in a minute) and I especially liked this part about the Pope's tailor, Gammarelli, just off Rome's Piazza Minerva.

John Donvan: And this week, a lot of those priests are coming to this little street in Rome, which is a little bit like the Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive for clergy, outfitting themselves for a religious ceremony. They come to stores like this one, and they’re all up and down this street, to outfit themselves with the best Italian vestments. And that includes all the priests, the bishops, the archbishops, and it has included the Pope.

Mr. Gammarelli: These are hand-made, these buttons. Bishops wear these purple socks and the cardinal, scarlet.

Donvan: What about the Pope?

Mr. Gammarelli: Pope, white.

Donvan: Always white.

Donvan: Gammarelli’s, outfitting popes since 1798. And there’s a tradition with Gammarelli’s and the Vatican. Nearly every time a new pope is chosen and makes that first appearance on the balcony, usually within an hour of being selected, Gammarelli’s has made that first set of vestments the new pontiff wears. Actually, they make three sets, small, medium, and large, because no one knows ‘til the last minute what size he’ll be. Phillipo Gammarelli told us that as of today, they are a little out of practice on that rush job, because after all, it’s been 26 years since the last one. But he says they’ll get it right.

Donvan: So, you are beginning to have ...

Gammarelli: Yes, we must, we must get the order from the Vatican. We hope to have it. And after that, we shall make, to make, we shall start to make the cassocks.

For more information, here's a BBC piece on Gammarelli.


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