Image:U.S. President Bush walks with Pope Benedict XVI
Jason Reed  /  Reuters file
President Bush walks with Pope Benedict XVI as he acknowledges the crowd upon arriving at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C., April 2008.
updated 6/26/2008 11:25:36 AM ET 2008-06-26T15:25:36

The devil may wear Prada — but the pope does not.

According to the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the bright red loafers that Pope Benedict XVI wears are not designed by the Milanese fashion house, as has long been rumored.

“Obviously the attribution was false,” the Vatican newspaper said in its Thursday’s editions.

“Such rumors are inconsistent with the simple and somber man who, on the day of his election to the papacy, showed to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square and to the whole world the sleeves of a modest black sweater,” it said.

Video: Pope in Prada?

Fashion scrutiny
Still, Benedict’s fashion sense has often drawn media attention.

Three years ago around Christmas, he showed up for his weekly public audience in St. Peter’s Square wearing a fur-trimmed stocking cap that could have passed for a Santa Claus hat. The hat, as it turned out, is a “camauro,” which dates back to the Middle Ages and figures in many papal portraits.

On a separate occasion, Benedict sported a sumptuous red velvet cape trimmed in ermine — another piece of traditional papal attire that had long been abandoned.

L’Osservatore Romano said the pope’s interest in clothes has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with liturgy — what symbolism traditional garments can bring to the Christian liturgy.

“The pope, therefore, does not wear Prada, but Christ,” L’Osservatore said.

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