Today, I saw a televised news story about Gammarelli, the ecclesiastic tailor in Rome. Seems they’ve put three versions of the papal habit in their shop window — small, medium, and large — in anticipation of the new Roman pontiff. This is no affectation: this is where the last Pope got his gear.
As it happens, a couple of years ago, I was in Rome for a wedding (hi M. and S.!) and the festal hotel was literally next door, on the Piazza Minerva. You don’t even have to ask: of course I went in. Alas, they cater to shorter clergy and what few ready-to-wear things they had were far too small, and I hadn’t the time to order a cappa nigra — a cape for outdoors wear, one of the rare items appropriate for Catholics and Protestants alike — as if I really needed one. Indeed, I was head and shoulders taller than the three priests in there — tab collars popped out — making me feel monstrously large.
Instead, I went across the piazza to the other (taller?) ecclesiastic tailor — B-something — and got some nice shirts and my favorite collars, and paid much less than I would here.
But I got no Cardinal socks. (Which I had been told to get as the perfect Roman memento; now I can just kick myself.)
Read this article from the BBC from last year: