No cuff links!

As Rocco notes, Pope Francis doesn’t wear cuff links.

Rocco links to two photos showing Marini’s sudden reduction in lace:

What a blessed relief this all is.
But a monk confrere wonders whether Pope Francis shouldn’t have a Vatican aide sample all his food before he eats it.





  1. It’s the new Pope’s personal preference and that’s fine. But why a “blessed relief?” I guess I’ll never understand why all this clothing stuff is such a sensitive subject. It means nothing substantial either way in the end. By the way, I received some gorgeous papal cuff links as a gift a few months ago. I’ll continue to wear them and not feel the slightest guilt.

    1. @Jeffrey Tucker – comment #1:
      Mr. Tucker – beg to differ. It makes a huge difference – do you have teenage or young adult children?

      You can preach the gospel until you can’t speak but it falls on deaf ears if all you do is preach.

      You have to not only talk the talk; you have to walk the walk.

      You can dismiss this as mere cultural baggage but it is the reality I experienced in ministry. It is the reality I experience in the corporate world. (yes, you can get away with talk as talk for a long time but eventually you pay a price)

      Geez, Allan, you may have to store your French cuffs during this papacy and put your cuff links in your bank vault.

      Just love another commenter’s post – “what you see is just a Vatican II parish priest”

  2. I think most anthropologists would say that clothing is a language. I am not at all deep in the literature, but two books come immediately to mind:

    Rolande Barthes, The Fashion System (1990)

    Liza Dalby, Kimono: Fashioning Culture (1993)

    Alison Lurie, The Language of Clothes (2000)

    This remarkable website focuses on papal clothing and accoutrements. It starts with hats and headwear but continues, under the section “Ecclesiastical Finery”, with the pope’s watch, his briefcase, his cufflinks … and, at great length, his shoes.

    I hope people won’t conclude that Pope Benedict was speaking a language and sending a message through his choices of clothing, but that Pope Francis is simply “being himself”. Francis, too, is speaking.

  3. With regard to praegustatio: Pope Francis might not want to throw out the fancy silverware just yet. Folk wisdom (quite erroneously) believes that a poisonous mushroom will blacken sliverware. Nevertheless, the presence of the utensils might prove to be a sufficient deterrent.

    1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #4:
      Good point, Samuel – thanks for contributing to the conversation.

      So all we really know is that he wore cufflinks at first as pope, then changed toward not wearing them. We don’t know yet whether that’s a pattern. Time will tell.


  4. He definitely wears French cuffs that demand cuffs inks and long sleeve shirts that don’t. And don’t forget Pope Benedict had no French cuffs or links when introduced to the world but a long sleeve black sweater at his wrists unlike the more lavish French cuffs of Francis! 🙂

  5. Marini doesn’t always wear the lace surplice – his surplice at the Ash Wednesday Mass only had a narrow band, and the style he is wearing here crops up at regular intervals when the Pope celebrates outside the basilicas.

  6. All I can think of is this… Jesus was fully human and fully divine. The Pope, elevated as he may be, remains fully human; wonderfully so.

    Clothes do make the man, but there must be a man in the clothes. That is not commentary on any pope of the past, immediate or otherwise. However, a church “for the poor,” might be better served with less lace and more love. Just saying.

  7. Really? Cuff links? That’s what we’re on the lookout for at the beginning of this papacy?

    Can we get a price on those button cuff shirts? We probably ought to make sure they weren’t too expensive – otherwise His Holiness would totally be deceiving those impressed by the lack of links.

  8. I don’t know about Argentina, but in Macon, Georlgia the poorest African American church of any protestant denomination will see the best dressed church-goers in town and their ministers who often have secular jobs in addition to pastoring wearing the best suits, cuff links and expensive diamond rings and watches which is expected by their church members.
    I might add that my Italian mother who came from a poor family in Livorno pre and post war when I look at pictures of her and friends of that period they all had a flair for style and good taste as poor as they actually were.

    1. @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #11:
      But, this is very regional – in many parts of latin america where money is scarce or in short supply, folks give honor by coming to church in clean clothes (of whatever kind), etc.; acting a little more formally, etc.
      Keep in mind that some of the slums where the pope’s priests serve, folks may come to church because it is the only place that is heated in their winter. Pretty sure I don’t want to copy the evangelical style especially big dollar ministers in their Gucci suits, shoes, flashy rings, etc. Sometimes it helps to be countercultural.

      To the opposite extreme, we continue to have an issue among hispanics in Texas who think nothing of going $8-$10,000 in debt to put on a huge quinceanera celebration for their 14 yr old daughter when they can barely pay the monthly rent or meet the car payment.

      Guess it depends.

  9. I understand Msgr Marini has a nice clean pair of bib overalls and a denim shirt ready for the installation Mass tomorrow, and a baseball cap in case it is sunny.

    1. @John Drake – comment #16:

      Great! Perhaps el Emérito will also make a show, wearing his white windbreaker and baseball cap.

      And let’s be careful about our words: inauguration, not installation.

  10. If you look back at Benedict XVI’s recent visit to Britain, you can see the amount of lace worn by Marini increase in a steady progression until, at the end, it was almost up to his armpits. And, I am told, he boasted about it.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #20:
      Paul – you made the Dallas Channel 8 news with recordings from Rome and the BL choir with you in the background. Obviously, you survived both choir and Rome/conclave.

  11. Of all the ridiculous things I’ve read in the past few days this cufflinks nonsense has to be the most absurd. Thanks to comment 4 we can see that the Pope wore cufflinks last Wednesday. Therefore we can conclude with metaphysical certainty that he possesses more than 1 shirt and nothing more than that.
    Indeed perhaps like many men who wear shirts, he has more than one kind. I myself have several white shirts from exactly the same brand some of which have double cuffs, others of which have buttons. Never once have I out on the button cuff thinking “I will show my simplicity and identification with poverty today” Or vice versa.
    Since so much has been made of the fact that the Pope wears his own black shoes and pants we might also conclude that BOTH shirts actually belong to him personally. Gasp! Or is there some suggestion that Mgr Marini has also been functioning as a valet?
    I must say that the comments of the past few days were put into perspective when I picked up the L.A. Times on Saturday and found myself irrationally outraged by a quote in the paper from Card. Mahony about the Pope’s simple black shoes identifying him with poverty. (It was only later I discovered that it was part of a series of tweets). The concept of the builder of a nearly $200-million cathedral with a Bishop’s chair budgeted at 1-million (according to Wikipedia) making such a statement and being taken seriously was beyond satire. (Could he be the most shameless cleric since Talleyrand) After I calmed down I realised that everything I read that Francis had actually said that was on the record and not rumour I had found moving – and I am one happy to go to either form of the Mass and liked B16. So it was time to give up on this nonsense.
    Clearly Rocco was “interviewing his typewriter” as journalists used to say, when he wrote this. I would also note that the vestment B16 is wearing in the lace photo seems to be rose and it is highly unlikely that that is a Good Friday photo as Rocco claims- Laetare Sunday I would bet.

  12. I wouldn’t read too much into the minimalization of lace during Lent. That’s typical. If it persists into Paschaltide, however, the traddies should begin to panic.

    1. @James Murphy – comment #24:
      OK, that’s an interesting note.

      But here are some Lenten photos of Pope Benedict that look pretty lacey. I’m not disputing your point, though, that in geneal it’s less lacey during Lent.

      Ash Wednesday:

      Palm Sunday:

    2. @James Murphy – comment #24:
      Why should they panic? The EF and ROTR are not defined by the use of lace. You can have a100% traditional liturgy without it, and it only shows up once in a while at the EF I attend.

      I’m neutral about lace. I think it can look very nice and show noble simplicity, but I’ve never walked away from a Mass thinking “gee, that really could have used more lace.” As long as Pope Francis isn’t forbidding the use of it or demanding all lace be destroyed, it matters little to me if he doesn’t care for it himself. Same goes for all the other things he has decided to not use. I rather like Francis so far, and I pretty much attend the EF exclusively. None of my traddy friends are going nuts over the supposed chaos Francis is causing.

      BTW, I never noticed papal cuff links before today. When did cuff links become a sign of opulence or royal court? I just saw some at the department store yesterday, so they aren’t archaic either. I really don’t get the fuss.

  13. Jack Wayne : @James Murphy – comment #24: Why should they panic? The EF and ROTR are not defined by the use of lace. You can have a100% traditional liturgy without it, and it only shows up once in a while at the EF I attend. I’m neutral about lace. I think it can look very nice and show noble simplicity, but I’ve never walked away from a Mass thinking “gee, that really could have used more lace.” As long as Pope Francis isn’t forbidding the use of it or demanding all lace be destroyed, it matters little to me if he doesn’t care for it himself. Same goes for all the other things he has decided to not use. I rather like Francis so far, and I pretty much attend the EF exclusively. BTW, I never noticed papal cuff links before today. They never struck me as some sort of sign of opulence or royal court. I just saw some at the department store yesterday, so they aren’t archaic either. I really don’t get the fuss.

    Really, you never thought to yourself even just once, “man, that liturgy could have used just a smidge more lace”? 🙂

    I was being facetious.

    Or was I?

  14. This morning’s installation Mass has some more no’s!

    No French Cuffs or cuff links.

    No silence after the homily, whatsoever.

    No procession of gifts with the laity doing so (does shorten things)!

    No Holy Father distributing Holy Communion.

    There is the Benedictine altar arrangement but with the candles a bit more angled, which is very nice. Huge crucifix and bishop’s candle dead center. I’ll start calling this the Franciscan Altar Arrangement.

    His calling of the Holy Spirit (Epiclesis) on the gifts has him actually placing his hands on the chalice and bread, not holding them over these.

    Bells at the epiclesis and elevations and the swiss guard clicking their heals and bowing.


    I knew there was no Procession of Gifts in the Extraordinary Form, but I had forgotten that the pope doesn’t distribute Holy Communion in the EF either, so is this Pope Francis’ new modeling of the “reform of the reform”?

    Lots of no’s today!

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #29:
      … and no mozzetta! 🙂

      The procession with gifts is a bit of a political football among liturgists. Folks around Collegeville were big on it in the 1930s, I’m told, as one of the rare ways to involve the laity in the old Mass. Then after the Council liturgists said it’s not a very important part of the Mass, it’s just a preparation to the actual sacrifice in the EP, so it disappeared. I suggested bringing it back a few years ago but it went nowhere.

      Maybe at Pope Francis’s installation Mass it’s all about saving time – not the best liturgical practice in my view.

      I’d prefer silence after the homily.

      I also wish they’d let people exchange the Sign of Peace before they start the Agnus Dei – what’s the rush?


    2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #29:
      Again, the pope is not the church; the church is not the pope.

      Do you watch only to seek to prove that your hobbyhorses are valid? Is that all this means to you?

      You sound like Pee Wee Arroyo of EWTN who said this (talk about the ridiculous): “….suggest that the pope did not distribute communion himself because, with all the world leaders, presumably in various states of grace, he wished to avoid controversy.” (thinking that Pope Francis does not share this Jansenistic interpretation of who should and should not receive communion.)

      Suggest that it is a change from B16 which some thought created this type of situation…from MSW who attends latin NO:

      “One of the innovations of Benedict’s papacy was that, at all papal masses, the people to whom pope distributed communion came up and knelt at a little prie-dieu, showing in an external way the proper internal reverence one should have when receiving the eucharist. Meanwhile, everyone else in the square had to climb over each other to receive the eucharist standing. This sent the unintentional message that communion from the hands of the pope was somehow more special. The Body and Blood of Christ is precious beyond imagining when it is distributed in the lowliest parish church or in Saint Peter’s Basilica, from the hands of the pope or the hands of a priest or deacon. I am glad Pope Francis is doing this differently but I would still like to see the prie-dieux consigned to history.”

      As JP wrote clearly earlier, let’s just let Pope Francis’ actions, gestures, symbols speak for themselves without trying to massage the message – why no reflection upon today’s homily? or its church meaning as an action of the church inaugurating a new bishop of Rome?

      1. @Bill deHaas – comment #31:
        Bill, let’s lay off Allan for a while, OK?
        And please use Arroyo’s real name – unless that’s a nickname he himself uses, which I may have missed.

  15. Sometimes I wish Papal (or any other) Masses were not televised but just broadcast via radio, forcing us to “Shema!”– hear, listen. Visuals, for all their wonderful value, do have some drawbacks particularly when matters simply of “taste” draw greater focus and attention over substance. Some televised Masses, due to the director’s camera shots, make the liturgy look too ‘show bizzy’.
    A lay friend is always amused at the way liturgy afficionados sometimes bicker about vesture, movements & gesture. “It’s like you guys are playing ‘House’ and can’t decide who’s supposed to do what, who wears what, what goes where” etc etc. Then I get her friendly lecture about what really goes into making a ‘house’ a ‘home’. She poo-poos my comments about how her remarks are actually a great theological reflection on the church.
    Hhmmmm…. maybe in time I’ll convince her to put her thoughts in writing. In the meantime, though, I thin she’d be happy if we closed our eyes and opened our ears.

  16. So much of hair-splitting.I’m reading this almost 2 years on, but cannot resist sharing my utter surprise at the small talk about black shoes and cuff links.(Did JESS or St.Peter sport red Prada loafers?)B16 is still an icon 4me.Papa Francesco doesn’t and he’s no less an icon,one who has touched so many of our lives.The bottom line? “By their fruits you will know them…” not their robes (black trousers or white).All the Popes in the 20th Century have enriched our Church one way or another.Instead we’re geared to papal attire for all it matters(v. little)It’s the Gospel Message and faith in action that would make us and our RCC more worthy in HIS eyes and to all mankind.

  17. Rocco, I’ve followed Whispers in The Loggia, Clerical Whispers since 2013 and in fact enjoyed it greatly.Didn’t comment.Pope Francis has changed my life.l follow his every move on a host of sites and my non-Christian friends also are intrigued by him.God bless your work in reporting about the Church, be it of N.America or the Vatican.

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