Depending on their rank, Catholic clergy wear different traditional vestments. The pope, as supreme leader of the Roman Catholic Church, is entitled to wear all of those vestments, as well as some others specific to his office.

Ordinary Dress

A pope greets a crowd of people.
••• Buda Mendes/Getty Images News/Getty Images

This the pope's uniform during his normal day-to-day activities. His skullcap is called a zuchetto; only popes wear white zuchettos, while cardinals wear red, bishops wear purple and priests wear black. He wears a white mozetta (a short, hooded cape), a gold pectoral cross and red papal shoes.

Choir Dress

A pope attends a religious ceremony.
••• Franco Origlia/Getty Images News/Getty Images

When the pope attends a religious ceremony but is not the celebrant, he wears choir dress. This includes a red mozetta and a red-and-gold embroidered fascia, or stole, with fringes.

Fisherman's Ring

A close-up of a pope's gold ring.
••• Franco Origlia/Getty Images News/Getty Images

All popes since at least the thirteenth century have worn a gold Fisherman's Ring, in honor of St. Peter, the first pope and a fisherman by trade. The ring has a bas-relief of Peter, with the pope's Latin name. It is destroyed after each pope's death. It is customary to kneel and kiss the ring during a papal audience.


A pope wearing a pallium around his neck.
••• Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The pallium is a vestment unique to the pope. It is worn over liturgical dress. It is a woolen sash that makes a circle around the neck and hangs down in the front and back. It is embroidered with six black crosses, though a new version instituted by Pope Benedict XVI has red crosses.


The storefront of Gammarelli in Rome, tailor to the pope.

The tailor to the popes since the late eighteenth century is Gammarelli in Rome. When a pope dies and conclave is in session to select the new pope, Gammarelli makes a set of papal vestments in various sizes, so whoever the new pope is, he will be able to wear them right away no matter his size.

Related Articles