Leading the worldwide Catholic church, and its more than 1 billion members, is certainly a big job. The office of Pope brings with it a good deal of pomp, history and ceremony. But what about the day-to-day aspects of the papacy? Below, we answer some bur
The Wicked Witch of the West isn’t the only one with a thing for ruby slippers. Most Popes throughout history have also sported red shoes. The Vatican claims that the crimson footwear memorializes the blood of Christian martyrs. But red shoes were a Roman status symbol well before the birth of Jesus, when only aristocrats could afford the expensive Phoenician dye needed to produce the vivid color. For a time, red shoes could only be worn by the Emperor and his family. After the advent of Christianity, Cardinals and the Pope also adopted red vestments, and the red Papal shoes are a carryover from this time. For a while, papal shoes got even splashier, bedecked with large gold crosses or buckles for parishioners to kiss. Pope Paul XVI put a stop to the buckles, and the foot-smooching in the ’60s, but retained the red shoes.
Pope John Paul II ditched the red shoes, preferring brown ones, but Pope Benedict XVI brought them back in a big way. His snazzy red leather loafers earned him the title “Prada Pope,” part of a more-ornate papal look that spurred Esquire to name him the 2007 “Accessorizer of the Year.” Seeking to avoid the appearance of frivolity, the Vatican quickly refuted rumors that the loafers came from the Italian fashion house. When Pope Francis was elected as pontiff, his fashion choices also made headlines, but for the opposite reason. The ornate red shoes were nowhere to be seen; Pope Francis instead went with sturdy black leather shoes with orthotics, something more common in the wardrobe of an everyday grandpa than in that of the global leader of the Catholic Church.
It’s a good thing the job comes with a lot of benefits, including unparalleled spiritual fulfillment, because Popes aren’t exactly rolling in the dough. You can’t exactly pull up the Pope’s salary on glassdoor.com, but the Vatican has confirmed that the Pope is not paid a salary. However, the Holy See (Vatican) has a budget, raised largely through its museums and banks, that covers all the day-to-day financial needs (food, travel, clothing, other living expenses) of the Pope, as well as the costs of Vatican upkeep and staff.
Since Pope Benedict XVI stepped down in 2013, the first Pope to do so in about 600 years, we now know that there is salary; or rather, a pension, for the role of ex-Pope. Upon renouncing the office, Benedict XVI went from earning no money, to collecting a monthly pension of 2,500 euros. The Catholic Church also covers his living expenses, providing him with rent-free living and services like housekeeping.
While Popes who keep the job their whole lives don’t get paid during their lifetimes, they do collect some money after death. According to tradition, bags containing silver, gold, and copper coins, one for each year of tenure as Pope, are placed alongside the deceased Pope in his casket. For Pope John Paul II, the coins’ total was about 100 euros, a nominal sum for being the spiritual leader of more than 1 billion Catholics, but, as Popes would know better than most, you can’t take it with you.