The red shoes are being retired.
The Pope is giving up the trademark that briefly made him a fashion star, trading in his snappy ruby-red loafers for a pair of hand-crafted brown ones made for him by artisans in Mexico. He will wear those in retirement, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi says.
The flash of red sparked (unfounded) rumors he was wearing Prada and helped make him Esquire magazine's accessorizer of the year in 2007. The actual designer? An Italian craftsman who had previously created a pair for Pope John Paul II, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
A former Vatican official assured The Associated Press back in 2005 that Benedict was no clothes horse, advising that the pontiff "wouldn't know Gucci from Smoochi."
Today is the Pope's last day. Many wonder who will be chosen to take his place.
One-hundred and fifteen cardinals will be voting in the next few weeks to choose Pope Benedict's XVI successor. Should they return the papacy to an Italian, stick with a pontiff from elsewhere in Europe, or follow the trends in the church and look to Africa or across the Atlantic? Here's a look at some possible contenders:
— Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan
— Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, archbishop of Vienna
— Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of Vatican's culture office
— Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana, head of the Vatican's justice and peace office
FROM LATIN AMERICA:
— Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo
— Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina
— Cardinal Leonardo Sandri of Argentina
FROM NORTH AMERICA:
— Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada, head of the Vatican's office for bishops
— Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York
— Cardinal Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila