The Pope’s Shoes

A few weeks back, I suffered from a serious case of Conclave Fever.  One of the symptoms was impulse online shopping.  (Seems unlikely, I know.  But don’t judge me. Until you’ve experienced Conclave Fever, you truly can’t understand its debilitating side-effects.)

Before all the February hoopla over the papal resignation and upcoming conclave, I had never really noticed Pope Benedict’s red shoes.  I was immediately smitten. What sass!  Those red shoes, they just screamed “rebel,” don’t you think?
No, they’re not Prada.

The logical next action then (logical from the mental fog of Conclave Fever, that is) was to buy myself a new pair of red loafers in honor of our new pope*, whoever he would be.
So I went online and found these great shoes and ordered them.    
Ain’t they purdy???
Many of you undoubtedly know (I embarrassingly did not) that the color red is used in Catholicism to symbolize the blood of the martyrs. That takes the cool factor of those red shoes from pretty-dang-high to out of this world… literally.
According to my modus operandi, new information = something new to ponder. This week’s topic: martyrdom,  and what the heck red shoes have to do with it.

No doubt about it, every single martyr was bold and daring in his or her own way.  Some stared down emperors and, even upon penalty of death defied the order to renounce Christ.  Some went up in flames, or like St. Agnes, didn’t go up in flames even when surrounded by fire.  Still others spoke of Christ, or joy, or truth and justice from the very instruments of torture and death that would eventually kill them, like the Korean martyr St. Andrew Kim Taegon.  Like the pope’s red shoes, many martyrs commanded attention. The blood they spilled has won countless souls for Christ and for heaven.  Their brazen courage inspires me to better face the ridicule and mini-martyr moments of my life.

There is another face of martyrdom, though.  Like St. Nicholas Postgate, some martyrs spent their lives as quiet examples of resistance, fortitude, and strength.  Many were ripped from their families, tortured and imprisoned (sometimes for years) before receiving the sweet relief of death and their heavenly reward.  Some, like St. Dorothy, were betrayed by their very families. So while the red is bold and daring and cool, it’s also steadfast and stalwart.  Red is for the blood in their veins, not just their blood on the ground. It’s this type of fortitude and persistence that can speak to all of us, on any path we’re taking toward heaven.  The martyr saints whisper softly, “You can do this.  Little by little, even you can do this.”

My red shoes may have been an impulsive splurge, but I’m pretty sure I’m never going to look at them the same way again.  Because even these pasty and humble feet need a path to tread.  What more noble way than that of the martyrs?


*I know Pope Francis doesn’t wear red shoes.  I now know JPII didn’t either.  And it doesn’t bother me a bit.  As this lovely blogger says, the nice thing about being pope is “You get to pick your own shoes.”


  1. Your shoes and your feet are pretty! (Too much?)

  2. I want to jump on the bandwagon, but I already have 3 pairs of red shoes, maybe I should jump off.