Vatican tailor: how and where to sew the cassock for a Pope

© AP Photo / Andrew MedichiniПапа Roman Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica in the VaticanVatican tailor: how and where to sew the cassock for a Pope© AP Photo / Andrew Medichini

«Yes, your Eminence, the order is ready, you can have it». Judging by the treatment, the source of one of the cousins, Gammarelli at the other end of the phone was nothing short of the Vatican cardinal.

The Church hierarchy, and ordinary priests and ordinary people, the necessary daily work clothes: for her they turn to family, Gammarelli, which for more than two centuries sewing robes and other items of Church vestments for the Catholic clergy.

«As far as we know, Atelier our family was established in 1798. Then Italy did not exist, and Rome was part of the Papal States. I am part of the sixth generation and I run a store and workshop together with two of my cousins,» says Lorenzo Gammarelli, sitting in a comfortable chair in his small office.

«By tradition, dads wear two colors — red and white: white for the cloth, red for the capes on the shoulders. Pope Francis wanted only white. In the usual wardrobe of the Pontiff’s shoes are too red, but Francis was asked to do them black,» says the tailor.

Shoes, by the way, unlike clothes, Gammarelli not doing yourself, and buy one of the Italian factories and then resell it. But this is done only for the sake of the client.

«They like to come in and take it all at once, without shopping. This is the usual loafers, but not the kind of shoes that you can find in the city. Until the end of the 60-ies of the bishops had to wear loafers with a silver buckle, and cardinals — with gold. Now this rule does not exist: shoes now the same for all, but the buckle no longer wear,» says Gammarelli.

And if a few wishes of the current head of the Catholic Church relate only to the color of accessories and shoes, his predecessors were more demanding: «John Paul II was suffering from the heat, he always needed more light clothing, even in winter. Benedict XVI, on the contrary, he loved the heat: after the election, when he acted from the first blessing in St. Peter’s square, on it under the robe he wore a black sweater. His is very critical,» recalls Gammarelli.

The current Pope is safe to call an old client of the Vatican ateliers.

«Pope Francis was our customer, while still cardinal Bergoglio. Measurements we already have: after a couple of days after his election my cousin went to the Vatican to once again check everything. The Pope of course we not call. Employees of the Holy see reported that he needs,» says Gammarelli.

«Sometimes we preseut measurements, but it is better to come himself. Among our customers, in addition to Catholics, also Protestants, Orthodox and Anglicans. Come and priests of the Russian Orthodox Church, but not for the robes, and the material. How many dad’s robe, I don’t know, we never thought, smiling a tailor. But need light robes in summer and warm in winter. There are at least two or three for the season, just not more than ten. They are all made from wool from the Italian manufacturers — the fabric is the same high quality we use for other habits,» continues the story of Gammarelli.

Typically, the manufacture of the cloth with the measuring and fitting takes two to three months. But this does not mean that the work is all the time in the Studio where I work only 15 people, there is a strict turn. But when the order comes from the Pope, they controlled for a week, and the rest of the orders are set aside.

How much is papal cassock

«I can’t tell you — laughing, Gammarelli. But when he chose Francis in the media, above all Italian, came a lot of articles that talked about prices on the papal cassock. No one guessed even close.»

The simple black cassock, sewn in a historical workshop will cost you 600 euros. It does not need any documents or checks: to order a Catholic vestment can any passer-by. Of course, the colors that are available. But the cost of even a meter high quality white wool, from which, it seems, can be made the robe of the successor of St. Peter, Lorenzo did not disclose.

One cassock we need three and a half meters of wool — more or less similar to the amount of material needed for «civilian» men’s suit. Measurements, however, shoot harder, and tailoring itself becomes more responsible: the jacket can be customized, cassock, being closed from the neck and shoulders, needs to sit down immediately, otherwise they will see all the flaws of the sewing.

«When a new Pope is elected, we ordered three cassocks small medium and large sizes. We make them, focusing on the cardinals, who, in our opinion, can become the Pope. And guessed about half of the cases.»

The store and sewing workshop family Gammarelli work without interruptions and delays, but as in any complex case, is not without its curiosities.

«Such that we are unable to sew the cassock, have not happened, but sometimes I make mistakes — fortunately, quite rare. There is one popular story about how after the election of John XXIII he got the robe is too small. And in that moment, when he had first to speak to the people, one from the Vatican nuns cut of his cassock back and clasped it with pins. The accuracy of this cannot be confirmed, but family legend has it that the next day Pope John XXIII called my grandfather, with whom she was on excellent terms, and asked: «what did You do? The robe was small!». Grandfather then said that this is impossible, because one of the three robes were made just for dad — looks like he took the wrong size,» says a Vatican tailor.

© RIA Novosti / Alexander Lagonosticta Lorenzo Gammarelli in the VaticanVatican tailor: how and where to sew the cassock for a Pope© RIA Novosti / Alexander Lagonosticta Lorenzo Gammarelli in the Vatican
Vatican tailor: how and where to sew the cassock for a Pope© RIA Novosti / Alex Particupate in fotobanka Italian prisoners escaped during lunch with the Pope

According to him, before he studied at the faculty of engineering and was long thought will go into the family business, but one day, at a Mature age once in the Studio, remained forever fascinated by them.

«Dynasty, Gammarelli continues. Growing up the seventh generation. They are still children: the eldest almost 10 years. If someone from them will want to continue our thing — we’ll always be here,» concludes Lorenzo.