The “Cost of Discipleship”

At Vatican Insider, Andrea Tornielli reports on the cost of the new cardinals’ clothing:

Here are the current prices for items prepared by Rome’s most renowned tailor, Gammarelli, which has traditionally been the Pope’s tailor. The red mozzetta  which cardinals wear with their choral vestments, costs about 200 Euro, but the price goes up if one chooses cord buttons  – which are hand made and more sought after (they cost 20 Euro each) – instead of cloth buttons. The red cassock costs approximately 800 Euro, while the three-cornered hat without a bow, which is typical for cardinals, can cost between 80 and 120 Euro. The red and golden cord for the pectoral cross costs around 80 Euro: the price varies according to how elegant it is and the size of the bow on the back. The red fascia which is worn with the red cassock and the black cassock with red piping, costs about 200 Euro. A black cassock with red piping costs approximately 600 Euro, while the cardinal’s red zucchetto is priced at around 40 Euro. Finally, the red socks cost about 15 Euro for a pair.

Given that cardinals usually purchase two sets of each of these outfits, they can expect to spend around four to five thousand Euro to complete their wardrobe. The cardinal’s ring is a gift from the Pope.

That is 3 or 4 thousand British pounds, 5 or 6 thousand bucks in the U.S.

Read the rest here.

Let us pray for the six cardinals to be created Saturday.


    1. John Swencki : Worcester, MA’s R.J. Toomey Co. is the USA’s Gammarelli, but better priced.

      Methinks a more appropriate equivalent to Gammarelli’s would be Wippell’s. Though actually British, Wippell’s do have offices and quite a loyal following over here. Toomey’s? Rather ‘run of the mill’, I think.

  1. As disturbing as this is, I can offer a more cheerful word. I attended the 1998 consistory, where I paid my own visit to Gammerelli to check the prices. But I also heard a newly created cardinal still noted today for his theological conservatism describe how his sister had altered his predecessor’s cassock, etc. to fit him. He seemed unimpressed by the trappings and disgusted by the costs. Much though I disagree with him about other things, I often think of how much I admire him for that.

  2. I gave some of those Gammarelli socks to male relatives one year for Christmas, a red pair to one and a purple pair to the other. They go quite high up on the leg. They are pure silk and I suspect that they need to be washed by hand.

  3. No wonder some cardinals have turned into globe-trotting junior JP2’s. Those speaker fees can add up to some significant wardrobe enhancements.

    On the other hand, I’m glad we’re not witness to a conclave with old dudes in cardinal polo shirts and khakis. John, surely you realize blue is not a liturgical color, eh?

  4. Fancy vestments and other ecclesiastical finery may strike some folks as traditional and beautiful. Anachronistic is the word that comes to my mind. How did standing “in personal Christi” get mixed up with wearing an ancient form of clothing which in the modern era suggests femininity? Garb that is noble in its simplicity is what we were on our way to adopting when the lace and buskins folks took power. The Master demonstrated powerlessness on the cross. Naked and humiliated he “stood in” for us sinners. Now those who claim to stand in for him prefer lace, linen, and damask. Go figure.

  5. My friend spent a sabbatical year in Rome. He said he found many bishops (esp South American, African & Third World) wearing plain black cassocks & using publish transportation when getting around the city. US bishops tended to wear the ‘reds’ and use limos. Probably true only to some degree.

  6. Hmm, I will inquire from a very good friend of mine, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle of Manila, Philippines who is noted for his simplicity of life, how much it cost him his full regalia. Although, I must mention that Cardinal Tagle, being of Chinese descent on the mother side, has Chinese relatives who can very well purchase these as gifts. However, knowing him quite well, I am sure that he chose the simplest and even without the ‘required’ red socks. I can almost imagine him shaking his head with amusement. But God bless our cardinals and I pray for Cardinal Chito and the Philippine church.

  7. @Cameron Neal – comment #13:
    Thank you for pointing it out to me. I have noted it to be extremely beautiful, dignified and appropriately fit for the celebration. At any rate, it is really his heart for the Gospel that matters. Please help me pray for my dear friend, Cardinal Tagle. Maraming salamat po.

  8. Maybe if the good cardinals wore simple vestments, it would help them become Christian enough to stop forming specious judgments about other people – judgments based solely on outward appearance and clothing. They could be helped in this process of personal formation by following the example of the editor and commentators of this venerable blog.

    When their formation is complete, the cardinals could change their simple vestments for blue jeans and sweaters. This will only happen when they realize the evil of high-quality custom garments, hand-made by craftsmen in a centuries-old artisan tradition. Rejecting such excess, the cardinals will step into holy and morally-superior garments stitched together with care by Malaysian sweatshop workers out of high moral fiber produced with the help of underpaid farm-workers, pesticides, and deforestation. Through the miracle of faceless multi-national corporations, this holy and immaculate raiment will be shuttled around the globe to a chain store near the cardinals. And the cardinals can rest easy at night, knowing that they wear cheap clothing in the service of God. And as we all know, cheap = morally superior.

    Praytell is too much fun for a Monday…

  9. I am usually a supporter of traditional displays of Catholicism, high forms of ritualized worship, etc. But every time I hear a story like this, I can’t shake the words of our Lord.

    “They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces… call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.”

    Regarding our styles of vestments and honorific titles for clergy, could it be that the Catholic church has it completely and utterly wrong? Any commentaries that I’ve read find a way to say that this passage really doesn’t mean what it plainly says. This has worried me for years.

  10. Agreeing with Jared that a showy humility is no better than the ostentation of watered silk, I yet think that Scott makes just the right point. And, let me go further to say that, considering those things the Gospel tells us about phylacteries, tassels, etc., our use of the word “conservative” to describe those who prefer the trappings of a relatively recent medieval Church over the simplicity of the Gospel always mystifies me. (I would make this same point about liturgy, too.) Aren’t those of us who look askance at the tailoring bill or the gilded candlesticks the real conservatives? Wasn’t the chief triumph of the Council to say just that the Gospel and the early Church should hold greater weight for us? To re-orient our understanding of what we are ‘conserving’?

  11. I see none of you have actually ever looked into the prices associated with legitimate tailors (not Pakistani sweatshop MTM stuff). They make quality clothing and vestments for a just wage that supports the livelihood of those in their trade and we’re sitting here judging them, using our Asian slave labour produced clothing’s prices as the stick to measure their prices against?

    “[6] And when Jesus was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the leper, [7] There came to him a woman having an alabaster box of precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he was at table. [8] And the disciples seeing it, had indignation, saying: To what purpose is this waste? [9] For this might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. [10] And Jesus knowing it, said to them: Why do you trouble this woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.”

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