Monday, March 04, 2013

Next Stop: The "Room of Tears"

With thanks to one of the ops for sending along the shot, it looks like Gammarelli's all ready to go – a set of the the traditional small, medium and large cassocks made to fit a new Pope whatever his size are now on display in the window of the traditional papal atelier, whose family-owned shop has vested almost all the pontiffs of the last century, and even earlier.

Founded in 1798, the small store near the Pantheon – right below the Accademia, the Holy See's diplomatic school – always tends to be one of Rome's great stakeout spots as its global legion of customers drop in to pick up new surplices, cross-cords and the like.

While Gammarelli tends to get its biggest publicity bounce out of clothing the new Pope, the house's most frantic time comes with each new consistory to create cardinals as the majority of the new "princes of the church" turn to the clan to whip up the seven-piece sets of robes the office requires in a matter of weeks. Per custom, only a cardinal-designate's priest-secretary is permitted to accompany his boss to the fitting; the rest of the world has to wait for Consistory Morning to see the cleric clad in scarlet for the first time.

Come Conclave time, the three cassocks will be waiting just behind the Sistine Chapel, ready for the cardinals' choice in what's come to be known as the "Room of Tears," so called due to the emotion that can overwhelm the new pontiff as he heads there alone to change into the white cassock in the minutes leading up to his emergence before the waiting world.

Notably, the velvet and ermine mozzetta tops out the prepared set. Reserved for "ecclesiastical winter" – All Saint's Day to Easter – the heavier model of the choir cape was last used by Paul VI before its restoration under Benedict XVI. 

SVILUPPO: As the following piece from CBS' morning show displays, the unveiling of the cassocks at Gammarell's opening for business today made for an unsurprising media spectacle....