It was no coincidence, no style whim, it was the start of a new deal….
Red has always represented sacrifice, passion and martyrdom, but also power, the supremacy of the spiritual sphere over the temporal, and Counter-Reformation.
The Papal fashion style was always meant to stress the importance of the figure. It was a language when there were no videos nor photos. And actually an-alphabets couldn’t read but would understand colours and clothes very well. Dress code was an immediate and direct communication instrument to any Christian.
While Ratzinger was a traditionalist pope from many points of view, Bergoglio is clearly an innovative pontiff with some revolutionary sides. He prefers spiritual purity rather than the official doctrine, cherishes private faith compared to the public dimension of religion, he sees himself as any other Catholic rather than a hierarchic figure between God and the masses.
And this egalitarianism is also drawing some criticisms from conservative and reactionary catholic groups.
Not only Francis shunned red clothes but he also decided that his dress code would be minimal. Simple, ordinary black shoes and trousers and no accessories, let alone jewels, ermines or other lavish decorative items such as the old-looking weirdly-named hats that Ratzinger loved.
All of this belongs to the past and to a vision of the Catholic Church as an institution with imperial or royal authority that Bergoglio is trying to radically change. Since Francis considers the Pope no longer the centre of attention of the Catholics but simply one of them. The era of the Pope-King is over!