.- The Pope's cobbler delivered him two new pairs of shoes in person on Wednesday, one white and one in the traditional red. Making a personal effort to improve Christian unity, the shoemaker also sent a pair to the Russian Orthodox Patriarch in the mail.
Adriano Stefanelli, the craftsman who designs and makes the custom footwear, first began delivering shoes to the Vatican when he saw John Paul II suffering in 2003.
He described to L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) after this Wednesday's general audience how back in 2003, he saw John Paul II on television and asked himself "instinctively" what he could do personally to alleviate the Pope's pain. Stefanelli's thoughts went to the shoes, and he quickly produced four pairs for him.
He has produced shoes for Pope Benedict XVI in each of the five years of his pontificate, also making him slippers for around the house and some hiking shoes for the summer he spent in northern Italy in 2008.
Each pair of shoes takes about a month for Stefanelli to complete using the traditional methods, he told LOR.
In addition to the Popes, the shoemaker also has a history of supplying Orthodox Patriarchs with footware.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II received them, and most recently, Patriarch Kirill I received a black pair of the handmade masterpieces through the mail. Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I also owns some of Stefanelli's shoes.
Commenting about giving the footwear to various Church leaders, Stefanelli told LOR, "It's a little sign to reinforce the desire for the unity of Christians."
Concluding the interview with the Vatican newspaper, he said, "the greatest satisfaction is to see, looking at the photos and images of Benedict XVI, that the shoe is, as they say informally, well 'used and carried,' (and) therefore comfortable."