Was Pius V the first pope who wore a white cassock?


Full Question
Why is it that the pope’s cassock is white while the clothes of other clergymen are usually black?

The custom of popes wearing white cassocks dates to Pope St. Pius V, a Dominican who chose to continue wearing the Dominican white habit as pope. Successive popes continued the custom, and it is now the traditional color of the pope’s clothing.

Now I don’t know the names for all the garments, I apologise for that.

Julius II, pope 1503 – 1513

Pius IV, pope 1559 – 1565

**Pius V, pope 1566 – 1572, who supposedly introduced the white papal cassock. ** It’s not really a cassock, though. It’s white, but so were the clothes of the previous popes. It’s much wider than a cassock, and made by thinner cloth.

Pius V. In all the paintings I’ve found, he’s wearing clothes like this.

Benedict XIV, pope 1740 – 1758. Is that possibly a cassock underneath, with the white lacey thing on top?

Pius VII, pope 1800 – 1823. A bit wide and probably made of silk, but this looks very much like a cassock - although not really like a Dominikan habit.

Pius IX, pope 1846 – 1878. The first pope to be photographed, in a white cassock that looks very much like what the popes of today are wearing. In all white - that’s new. OTOH we don’t know how many of the previous popes who usually wore all white, and donned that red cape just for gala.

Pius X, pope 1903 – 1914

Did Pius V actually use his white Dominikan habit as a pope? Well… maybe on ordinary weekdays, but not when posing for painters? Anyway, it seems the papal clothes have developed little by little. Maybe Pius IX, or one of his predecessors, thought a white cassock would be a good idea - and then they pointed to Pius V, although he wore what was expected of him at grand occasions and wore his old white cassock just around the house?

I’m just speculating. If someone actually knows something about Pius V and his white cassock - not just that which is always repeated - that would be really interesting.

Brother JR’s responses…


He had an even longer response explaining the evolution of the Pope’s garments since the time of Pius V with side by side pics of the Dominican habit vs what the Pope wears now. I can’t find the thread.


These are really beautiful.

If Pius V wore his Dominican habit, he’s never depicted wearing it. Do we know that he actually did? or maybe it’s just a myt? I’ve never seen a painting of a pope in a cowl or a black belt either. (Yihah, black belt popes! :smiley: ) Of course they still could have worn this, but I’d need good sources to believe it.

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That’s easy for you to say.

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