'This is about wearing something beautiful to give glory to God,' says Bishop Domenico Mogavero.

Dan Gould
  • 5 may 2011

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This article titled “Italian bishop turns heads with Giorgio Armani vestments” was written by Tom Kington in Rome, for The Guardian on Tuesday 3rd May 2011 19.36 UTC

The devil may wear Prada, but a Sicilian bishop has set out to show Satan does not have a stranglehold on designer clothing by ordering new vestments from Giorgio Armani.

Bishop Domenico Mogavero drew compliments from churchgoers when he turned out for mass on Monday on the Mediterranean island of Pantelleria in green silk vestments designed by Armani and decorated with symbols of vines, wheat, shells and starfish.

Mogavero said the vestments had turned heads, particularly among female parishioners, but warned he had no intention of turning the aisle into a catwalk.

“This is all not about having brands in church or indulging in the fashion of the moment, but about wearing something beautiful to give glory to God,” said Mogavero, 64, who donned the vestments at a ceremony for the opening of a church on the tiny volcanic island.

Armani, who has holidayed on Pantelleria for 37 years and owns a luxury retreat there, has created four vestments for the new church, in green, white, red and purple.

“They are tasteful, made from a sober type of silk and give an idea of the solemnity of the occasion,” said Mogavero, who was appointed the bishop of Mazara del Vallo, in Sicily, four years ago.

Known as a free thinker within the church, Mogavero once called for Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to resign over his sex scandals and has told Italians to show more tolerance towards immigrants.

Most recently he penned the preface to a book that details the financial scandals at the Vatican during John Paul II’s papacy and was published on the eve of the Polish pontiff’s beatification.

Last summer he approached Armani, 76, about vestments for the church on Pantelleria, which is closer to Tunisia than the Italian mainland.

“I asked him for the vestments as a gift to the new church – to create something beautiful, original and with themes reflecting the island,” he said. “I will see him this summer and I’ll have the opportunity to thank him personally.”

Mogavero’s venture into designer wear follows reports that Pope Benedict had a weakness for red Prada shoes, although the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano scotched the rumours, pointing out that the shoes in question were in fact made by an Italian artisan. “The Pope is not dressed by Prada but by Christ,” the newspaper stated. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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