Pope Resigns 2013: Retiring Papal Shoes Is Not a Prada, but Made by an Italian Cobbler

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By Vittorio Hernandez | February 27, 2013 10:39 AM EST

All his bags are almost packed and he is ready to go, but retiring Pope Benedict XVI is not leaving on a jet plane although is leaving behind his red shoes.

The decision to change shoe colors is part of the changes that he embraces along with a new title come March 1 when he becomes Pope Emeritus.

Besides packing his bag, the retiring pontiff also spent his last remaining days in the apostolic palace praying and sorting documents that he will leave in Vatican to be added to the papal archives or he will bring with him to his retirement home.

The documents to be left behind include the confidential report or the so-called Vatileaks that his former butler gave out to the press which provided juicy details on Vatican corruption and politics.

He is also leaving behind for his successor, who will be chose in a conclave in March, the problems regarding sexual abuse cases filed against the clergy. Among those accused is Canadian Keith Cardinal O'Brien who was forced by Pope Benedict to step down as head of the Scottish Catholic Church four weeks ahead of the cardinal's retirement. As a result, the cardinal opted not to participate in the forthcoming conclave.

The changes in the papal wardrobe are the result of two weeks of consultations with aides and theology and history experts. He will replace the red shoes with a brown pair of loafers given to him by shoemakers when he visited Leon, Mexico, in 2012. Fr Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, disclosed that the pope selected the Made-in-Mexico loafers because he finds it a very comfortable pair.

The new shoes will be matched by a simple white cassock as the pope leaves behind his mozzetta, an elbow-length cape. The ring, referred to as the ring of the fisherman, will be destroyed.

Contrary to perceptions that his ruby red shoe is a Prada, the pair that will also go on retirement was made by his personal cobbler, Adriano Stefanelli. It is made of Morocco leather and has a wide cross in gold braid.

The red color of the papal footwear is not a fashion statement but symbolises the blood of martyrs who died defending their faith.

So far, 50,000 tickets had been requested for his final public general audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday. On his last day, after meeting with the cardinals in the morning, he will leave the Holy See not on a jet plane but on a helicopter bound for Castel Gandolfo where he will greet local parishioners. It would be his last public act as head of the 1.2 billion-member Catholic church.

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