The Mantum of Clement XIII and Cope of John Paul II

A lesser seen photo of Pope John Paul II shows him celebrating Solemn Vespers at the papal basilica of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome in 1985 on the occasion of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and in the presence of Rome's popular devotional image, the Madonna Salus Populi Romani. Those who have seen this photo have frequently commented on the beauty of the sacred vestments being used here -- a much different, more continuity-based  and traditional selection than would selected for him under his later papal ceremoniere, then Msgr. Piero Marini (not to be confused with Benedict XVI's ceremoniere, Msgr. Guido Marini). As we often like to do on LAJ, rather than simply leaving these vestments a 'mystery,' we would much rather dig into them a little bit further and provide our readers with some further historical background and context. 

With that in mind let's first look at the copes worn by the cardinals. They are characterized by their elegant white silk lamé and gold thread embroidery and come from the time of Pope Paul VI (whose arms can be found upon them). They were used at the Second Vatican Council and came not only with the copes seen here, but also matching chasubles and dalmatics; these appeared most recently during in the pontificate of Benedict XVI:

These in turn actually replicate an even earlier set done in red in the same style during the pontificate of John XXIII.

Of course, going back to our photo, the vestment that is of particular interest is the cope that is being worn by John Paul II himself: 

Many will note that the cope has the arms of John Paul II on it, leading some to mistakenly believe that this cope originated within and for his pontificate. In point of fact it is a much earlier vestment -- originally a much longer, papal mantum in point of fact -- that was modified during the pontificate of John Paul II. 

Here we can see it from the back side:

As noted, this was significantly shortened and, what's more, the original papal stemma would be replaced by that of Pope John Paul II as can be seen here in this detail:

The keen observer will pick up on the fact that the oval arms of John Paul II are in fact much newer than the embroidered cartouche, tiara and keys, as well as the rest of the embroidery surrounding it.  So 'whose' cope was this originally?

Originally the arms would have been that of the pope under whose pontificate this vestment was created: the Venetian pope, Clement XIII (1758-1769) whose family home is the famous palace located on Venice's grand canal, Ca' Rezzonico. By way of brief introduction, Clement was, in many ways, a very 'modern' pope by the standards of his time, promoting vernacular translations of the sacred scriptures as well as dialogue with non-Catholics (while not, however, ever compromising on the full integrity of Catholic doctrine). 

The embroidery done on the set was executed by Girolamo Mariani and Lazzaro de Lazzari in the 1760's. The  designs include shell shapes, palmettes, acanthus leaves, flowers and volutes. Its overall design and decoration represent the particular tastes of the eighteenth century. 

For your further interest, here is the chasuble from the set:

Finally, a portrait of the pope in question:

Pope Clement XIII

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