He served him meals and organized his holy closets – he is also accused of stealing his confidential documents and leaking them to the press. This week, Pope Benedict XVI’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was ordered to stand trial on a charge that can carry up to six years of jail time.
What’s a pontiff to do without his trusted personal valet?
Thankfully, he is not the only one tending to the Pope’s needs. If his entourage is not up to the standard of, say, Madonna (the pop star), he does rely on Swiss guards, Vatican gardeners and florists and a “papal family” of eight staffers – which includes four consecrated lay women who, among other things, cook him his meals. (We hear his favourite is Bavarian potato ravioli.)
To keep His Holiness’s image well polished, the Pope also has these peeps in his corner.
Sorry, no frankincense. But The Guardian has reported that the Pope has his own perfume – a mix of lime tree, verbena and grass. The fragrance was created by Italian perfumer Silvana Casoli, who has produced scents for Sting and King Juan Carlos of Spain. Alas, the masses will never get a chance to smell quite as heavenly: “I would not ever repeat the same perfume for another customer,” Ms. Casoli told the press.
Rumours that the Pope was shifting tailors put Rome’s tiny religious fashion industry in a tizzy in 2005. But it turns out neither the old guard (Ditta Annibale Gammarelli) nor the new (Euroclero) holds sway over Benedict XVI’s closet. That honour goes to a small, humble shop on the city’s Borgo Pio. As for his signature red shoes, they are made by Italian shoemaker Adriano Stefanelli, whose other customers include the late Pope John Paul II and U.S. President Barack Obama.
Since the Pope is chauffeured around in a bulletproof bubble, his driver probably never gets to bond Driving Miss Daisy-style with His Holiness. Still, the job has its perks. Newsweek reported that the custom-built Mercedes in which Benedict XVI made a tour of the United States was “pretty posh,” equipped with a full climate-control system and stereo system. (Note: It helps to crank the bass if you’re rolling at the pace of a Zamboni.)
Last year, the Pope took on the handle @Pope2YouVatican. But like Britney Spears and Barack Obama, it’s safe to assume that he doesn’t tap out his own tweets. Catholic blogger Brandon Vogt, author of The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet, surmises that there are two or three people actively tweeting on his behalf. He also gets help with longer texts courtesy of Sister Birgit Wansing, whose skills include deciphering his scrawl: “It’s very small handwriting,” says Rev. Thomas Rosica, chief executive of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation in Toronto.