Roman Catholic Costumes

This particular dress on Raymond Burke is called the cappa magna.
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Gisele Bundchen on Bazaar cover
Free fashion advice for the Roman Catholic hierarchy

I was flipping through Vogue Magazine several years ago while in a waiting room waiting for an appointment. In it, I came across an interview with Gisele Bundchen, a supermodel and native of Brazil.

While listening for my name to be called, I casually read along. But, when the interview turned to the topic of  Bundchen’s upbringing as a Roman Catholic and how she perceived the Church as an adult, my interest peaked.

“Hey, Catholic religion! It’s time to update,” Gisele was quoted as saying, explaining why she isn’t all that interested anymore. While she may have been talking about certain policies and practices of the Church or certain positions the hierarchy holds on one issue or another, her counsel could very well be interpreted in the fashion sense, as well. 

Just consider how popes, cardinals, archbishops, and bishops dress themselves. They say they are the successors of the apostles but, in the bible, the apostles didn’t dress out of the ordinary. The Pharisees did! 

Take a look a the following gallery and decide for yourself. Apostles and servants or “Princes” of the Holy Roman Empire?

Bishops in purple robes and white pointy hats
The Purple Culture
Swiss Guard salutes to cardinals in black robes and red beanies and sashes
At the Vatican, even the guards wear costumes.
Thomas Doran in yellow pointy hat with staff
Tom Doran played the part of a shepherd.
Procession of pointy white hats
It looks like Archbishop Tom Collins imbibed a few too many.
Two costumed men hold up the train of Ratzinger's cape
Was this look ever in style?
Ratzinger in white dress and red rimmed hat
Now, that’s more like it. Simple, yet elegant.
Ratzinger with Barack Obama and Michelle in black veil
Poor taste in fashion can be contagious. Mrs. Obama knows better.
A costumed nun followed by three girls
Self-denial means changing your birth name and having no visible self-expression.

“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you frauds! You are like white-washed tombs, beautiful to look at on the outside but inside full of filth and dead men’s bones. Thus you present to view a holy exterior while hypocrisy and evil fill you within.” – Matthew 23:27-28

An American Girl Doll in First communion Dress and veil
Even American Girl Dolls are getting into the act.


I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you think of how priests and nuns dress in public? Why do you think they dress the way they do? Please comment below.


  1. Well, you cited Matthew — and that’s all that really needs to be said. As Emmet Fox has said, Jesus was very plain about the whole thing.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Cathy. It’s hard to believe I ever took those fools seriously. But, I did (past tense).

  3. Great job Kate! I hope that you and Mary Lou are doing well and wanted to share some good news with you so give me a shout. Let’s get together for breakfast after I graduate in December 2014. Would love to catch up with both of you. I’m going to be a Grandpa in February 2015!

    Have a safe and Happy Holiday and we’ll talk soon. Peace,


    • Donald, it’s so nice to hear from you. Sounds like things are well with you – and busy. Yes, that sounds like a plan. It’s always good to see you.

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