This is a papal shoe belonging to and worn by Blessed Pius IX, and, because of his beatification, it is also a 2nd class relic. It is obviously worn on the toe, testifying to the fact that he did, indeed, wear this pair of shoes.
Papal shoes vary depending upon the location of the pope. He wears red leather outdoor shoes. They should not be confused with the indoor papal slippers. (Papal Artifacts has a slipper belonging to and worn by Pope Pius XII.)
Before 1969, the pope wore episcopal sandals during the Mass and the color of the sandals matched the various liturgical colors of the vestments. Outdoor shoes were made of plain red Morocco leather and also had a wide cross in gold braid. Various modern popes added and eliminated decorations on their shoes according to their own personal tastes.
Popes also have their own personal cobblers in Rome.
The red shoes are one of the few remnants, along with the camauro, papal mozzetta and tabarro that are of the former red color of papal garments.
Pope Francis has dispensed with red shoes!
Some of the most beautiful artifacts in the Collection are featured in Papal Artifacts/Pius IX. We invite you to have a look at all of them!
About Blessed Pius IX:
Giovanni Mastai-Ferretti was born in the coastal town of Senigallia in 1772, the fourth son of a count. He studied theology in Viterbo and Rome and in 1815, at the age of twenty-three, entered the Papal Noble Guard. He was dismissed after a seizure of an epileptic type. Four years later he was ordained a priest and the seizures all but disappeared, something Fr. Mastai-Ferretti attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. His career began with his appointment as the rector of an orphanage in Rome. Pius VII then sent him to Chile and Peru to assist the nuncios there in mapping out the role of the church in independent South American republics. He was the first (future) pope to have visited America. Later appointments included the Hospice of Santa Michele in Rome and the archbishopric of Spoleto from 1827–1832 from which Mastai-Ferretti asked to resign because he did not share the intransigent views of Pope Gregory XVI. From 1832–1840 he was the archbishop of Imola where he was known for his untiring devotion as a pastor and his liberal political stance, advocating administrative change in the Papal States and sympathizing with Italian nationalism. During an earthquake his skills as an organizer of relief services and great charity were recognized. He worked to improve the education and training of his priests and became known for visiting prisoners and for establishing programs for street children.
When Gregory XVI died in 1846, a conclave lasting only two days chose Mastai-Ferretti as the new pontiff. Despite the fact that most cardinals present wanted a return to earlier policies, they also wanted a person who had not been compromised by his predecessor and was considered a moderate progressive rather than Gregory’s reactionary Secretary of State, Lambruschini. Mastai-Ferretti chose the name, Pius IX, and he would become the longest reigning pope in the history of the papacy—over thirty-one and a half years. He was fifty-four years of age when elected.
Pope John Paul beatified Pius IX on September 3rd, 2000.
We are honored to remember Blessed Pius IX on this anniversary of his election. Blessed Pius IX, pray for us!