Once there were two kinds of stockings discerned in the clerical dress. Usually they were made of silk in the colour appropriate for the rank of the bearer (although, of course, there were exceptions):
– white for the Pope
– red for cardinals
– purple for the bishops and the prelates di mantelletta
– for religious prelates in the colour of their cassock
– black for the rest of the clergy, regardless of the colour of the cassock worn.
Formerly the stockings were changed according to the changes in the colour of the cassock. Later on, however, all regulations were limited to one: on Good Friday cardinals dressed purple stockings, whereas the rest of the clergy – the black ones. The stockings which reached the knees could be replaced by ordinary socks in the proper colour.
All clergymen who, by virtue of their office or privilege, could pontificate for this type of solemn Mass donned silken stockings. Contrary to the previously described ones, they were not knitted, but woven. The colour of the stockings is the one required by the office of the day (of course without the black colour). Pontifical papal and cardinal stockings could be embroidered with gold; the stockings of bishops and the first two classes of protonotaries could be adorned with a golden ribbon; the stockings of the rest of the clergy could be decorated only with a ribbon of yellow silk.
For all fulfilling any activities in a church, priests or sacristans, the proper footwear is low, black, leather shoes with buckles on the front. For the secular prelates the buckles should have been made of gold or of gilded silver, for the priests and monastic dignitaries of silver and for the rest a steel one. Cardinals had such shoes in two versions: black with a red rim and heel and all red shoes donned with the solemn choir dress outside of Rome.
The Pope outside used red, leather shoes to which Pius XII added golden buckles.
In the Apostolic Palace the Pope wore red shoes made of velvet, silk or satin in the summer and of cloth in the winter. They were adorned with floral motives sewn with golden thread and also with the cross on the front which one kissed during an audience. There were also shoes with the papal coat of arms instead of the cross.
During the Octave of Easter the Pope wore white shoes as well as the Paschal mozzetta and the camerino.
For pontifical Masses special shoes were used. Low, with a thin sole and a low heel or even without it, they were made of silk and bound with silken ribbons or shoelaces which ended with golden (in case of cardinals, bishops and first two classes of protonotaries) or silken tassels. Their colour is required by the office of the day, of course with the exception of the Requiem Masses. Such shoes only in the case of the Pope and cardinals could be decorated with golden or silver thread.
Bishops and the protonotaries of the first two classes were entitled to trims of golden or silver ribbon which was changed for a silken one in the yellow colour for the rest who were granted the privilege of pontificating. Only cardinals, bishops, abbots and the protonotaries de numero put on stockings and sandals, while saying proper prayers, on the throne or the faldstool. The rest did it in the sacristy, saying at the time only one prayer.
During non-liturgical activities, as well as his clerical attire, one put on also silken gloves in the colour appropriate for the rank of the bearer:
– white for the Pope
– red for cardinals
– purple for bishops, domestic prelates and the prelates di mantellone outside Rome
– black for the rest of the secular clergy
– religious prelates had the gloves in the colour of the stockings.
Persons granted the privilege of wearing the ring put it on the gloves (in order “not to deprive priests and the faithful of the possibility of kissing the ring”, as one books says).
Everyone, having the privilege of the celebration of a pontifical Mass, was entitled to silken gloves (lat. chirothecae) with a cuff reaching the sleeve of the alb and in the colour of the Office (with the exception of the black colour). They were decorated according to the rank of the bearer:
– the Pope, cardinals, bishops and abbots, apart from other adornments, on the outer side could have crosses or monograms knitted
– the first two classes of protonotaries could use the gloves adorned only with golden lace
– the rest of them were entitled to the gloves of smooth silk without any special adornments.
[English translation by Marek]