Love that ermine!

I finally figured out why I keep returning to Amy’s blog, where the subject matter (Catholicism) is not all that important to me, but the pleasures are both sublime (Amy’s writing) and guilty (her commenters). It took a boring Friday night spent with an old Mary Gordon paperback before it hit me: Her commenters are characters in a Mary Gordon novel, probably “The Company of Women,” but also “Final Payments.”

I was particularly entranced with the reactions to an offhand post she made about the Pope’s choice of footwear for his first official papal Mass. He wore red shoes, which set off a blizzard of chatter that made me wonder if I’d accidentally rung up the Style network: I would especially hope that Pope Benedict wears the red tabarro and papal velvet hat with the gold strings that the late Holy Father used to be seen in regularly at the start of his pontificate. … The other item I would very much like to see return is the velvet mozzetta trimmed in ermine, which was worn in winter.

Granted, my catechism years weren’t my best as a student, but I had no idea what this guy was talking about. A little Googling can bring you up to speed fast, though — the mozzetta is what the rest of us would call a capelet, the swingy thing that covers papal shoulders and ends at the elbow. Wander down this alley, though, and you’ll be lost for great gobs of time. Did you know there’s such a thing as a papal tiara? Really — not a demure Miss America demi-crown but a big honkin’ thing that looks like a beehive. Shunned by Juan Pablo Uno and Dos, the tiara nevertheless is in a closet somewhere at the Vatican, awaiting its next closeup.

I had no idea even the papal wardrobe had such fans. As a Yank, I’m uncomfortable with most outward signs of royalty, including crowns and ermine-trimmed robes (although I still own the King of Sports’ million-pound scepter). But I liked the red shoes.

I suppose this was inevitable, though.

Correction of the day, from the Freep: An article about an employee at the Farmington Hills Golf Club killing a bird incorrectly called it a Canadian goose. It was a Canada goose. Glad we cleared that up.

Elsewhere, in the same paper: Love him or hate him, credit uber-aggressive TV reporter Steve Wilson with performing a minor miracle:

He’s brought Detroit and Warren together.

In hatred.

Of Wilson.

Not a bad lede, but what’s the “uber” doing in there? I’m no Deustch-speaker, but doesn’t “uber” mean “over?” Not in the sense of “over-aggressive,” but as in “above, elevated over?” “Deustchland Uber Alles,” Niezstche’s ubermensch, etc? You’d think editors who can split hairs over Canada geese would have flagged that one.

Don’t let that stop you from enjoying the story, though. It’s pretty funny. You have to appreciate how much Detroit and Warren hate one another to fully appreciate it, but there’s a media-hating angle in that for everyone.

My whining about the weather yesterday evaporated by the time I hit save. It touched 60 yesterday and is downright semi-balmy today, so I’m going out for a bike ride before the April showers come down. Later.

Posted at 9:50 am in Uncategorized |

8 responses to “Love that ermine!”

  1. mary said on April 26, 2005 at 11:28 am

    My goodness, where to start? Firstly, I have the same red shoes as the pope. They are about five years old and made by Franco Sarto. I got them on sale at Nordstrom Rack. I have them in pewter as well, and they are very comfy and stylish, as Italian shoes often are. I wonder if Joey Ratz shopped at Nordstrom Rack or if he gets them wholesale?

    The tiara link is far too fascinating to really take in on first read. I must go back later when I’m not pretending to work to have a better look at it. The tiaras look like something from the Joan Rivers collection, sold on QVC, but much bigger.

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  2. juan said on April 26, 2005 at 12:41 pm

    I thought “uber” was a cross between “super” and “over” (as in “dominion over”).

    Uberallis. Over all.

    Ubermench. Superman.

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  3. Dorothy said on April 26, 2005 at 1:50 pm

    The b&w picture of Pope Paul VI wearing the tiara makes me think that MAYBE he came from France instead of Italy. Is it me, or does he look like a conehead in that thing?!?!

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  4. mary said on April 26, 2005 at 2:13 pm


    It’s a combo conehead and Faberge egg tiara. Bit of missle warhead thrown in for good measure…or missal warhead maybe (groan.)

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  5. Nance said on April 26, 2005 at 2:25 pm

    I guess now you see why they gave it up. Don’t want some smartass walking up and saying, “What’s for dinner? Starch tubes in lactose preparation?”

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  6. joodyb said on April 26, 2005 at 3:55 pm

    No one can resist groovy headgear. I too will go back for closer study of that juicy link. Joan Rivers. Too funny. Thanking.

    If you haven’t dressed your kid as the pope for Halloween, it’s a last-minute no-brainer. Witness Conan O’Brien’s FedEx pope! I wish i had photos of all the kids i’ve seen got-up as the Holy Father. and we didn’t even think of the red shoes (which i actually remember from JPII).

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  7. Lance Mannion said on April 27, 2005 at 7:54 am

    Isn’t it enough to know that whatever shoes the Pope wears—slippers, flip flops, combat boots, Feragamos, Nikes—they’re called the shoes of the fisherman? Which makes me think that the Pope should always be seen in a pair of waders.

    Better symbolism and muy macho.

    Instead of a tiarra he can wear a little pork pie with the band stuck full of hooks and flies.

    As you know, Nance, I got a Catholicker edumacation than you, *and* I was an altar boy, but back at good old St Helen’s Elementary we never, ever, ever got a lesson in papal fashion.

    Amy’s commenters need to spend more time studying the life of Francis of Assisi and less time watching Queer Eye for the Holy Guy.

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  8. mary said on April 27, 2005 at 11:24 am

    Queer Eye for the Holy Guy is quite a concept. Imagine Carson shuzzing the sleeves on those lacy white dress things.

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