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The Catholic Encyclopedia
Unlike the ancient sandals, which consisted merely of soles fastened to the foot by straps, the episcopal sandals are in the form of low shoes, and resemble slippers. The sole is of leather; the upper part, generally ornamented with embroidery is made at the present day of silk or velvet. No cross is required upon the sandals; at Rome this is an exclusively papal privilege. With the sandals are worn the liturgical stockings, caligæ. The stockings, which are of silk, are either knitted or are made by sewing together pieces of silk fabric that have been cut a suitable shape; they are worn over the ordinary stockings. The privilege of wearing the sandals and caligæ belongs only to bishops. They may be worn by abbots and other prelates only by special privilege from the pope and only so far as this privilege grants. The pontifical foot-wear is used only at pontifical solemn Mass and at functions performed during the same, as ordination, but not on other occasions, as, for example, Confirmation, solemn Vespers, etc. It is therefore in the most exact sense of the word a vestment worn during the Mass. The liturgical colour for the day decides the colour of the sandals and caligæ; there are, however, no black stockings or sandals, as the bishop does not make use of the pontifical foot-wear either at masses for the dead or on Good Friday. Sandals and stockings are only customary in the Latin Rite and are unknown in the Oriental Rites.
Sandals and stockings belong to the liturgical vestments supported by the earliest evidence. They are depicted upon the monuments of the fifth century, for instance upon mosaics of San Satiro near San Ambrogio at Milan, and on those of the sixth century, e.g. the mosaics in San Vitale at Ravenna. Originally the sandals were called campagi, the stockings udones. The shoes were given the name sandalia probably during the eighth to the ninth century, and this name was first applied to them in the north; the designation caligæ for udones came into use in the tenth century, also in the north. As regards the original form and material of the campagi, they were slippers that covered only the tip of the foot and the heel, and must have been fastened to the foot by straps. This slipper was made of black leather. The stockings were, very likely, made of linen, and were white in colour. In the earliest period the campagi and udones were by no means exclusively an episcopal ornament, as they were worn by deacons. Indeed this foot-covering was not reserved exclusively for the clergy, as not only the monuments show that the campagi and udones were worn by the laity, but Lydus also testifies to this usage (De mag., I, xvii). Campagi and udones were originally worn in the post-Constantine era as a mark of distinction by certain persons of rank, and were probably copied from the foot-wear of the ancient senators. Their use gradually became customary among the higher clergy, especially when these appeared in their full official capacity for the celebration of the Liturgy. During the eighth and ninth centuries also the Roman subdeacons and acolytes wore a distinctive foot-wear, the subtalares, which, however, were simpler than the campagi, and had no straps. The sandals and stockings became a specifically episcopal vestment about the tenth century. Apparently as early as the twelfth century, or at least in the second half of the thirteenth century, they were no longer worn even by the of Rome. The privilege of wearing the sandals and caligæ was first granted to an abbot (Fulrad of St. Denis) in 757 by Stephen III. This is, however, an isolated case, as it was only after the last quarter of the tenth century, and especially after the twelfth century that it became customary to grant abbots this privilege.
The caligæ seem to have experienced no particular development. In the later Middle Ages they were, as a rule, made of silk. The earliest enforcement in respect to caligæ of the regulations for liturgical colours seems to have been at Rome, but even here probably not until the fourteenth century. The sandals retained substantially their original form until the tenth century. Then straps were replaced by three or five tongues reaching to the ankle, extensions of the upper leather upon the point of the foot, and these were fastened at ankle by means of a string. In the twelfth century these tongues were gradually shortened; in the thirteenth century, the sandal was a regular shoe with a slit above the foot or on the side to make the putting on easier. In the sixteenth century there was a return to the earlier form of the sandal; instead of a high shoe it now became once more a low foot-covering, like a slipper, a form which it has retained until the present time. The material of which the pontifical sandals are made was, until the thirteenth century, exclusively leather, at times covered with silk. Since the later Middle Ages, the upper part of the sandals has been made, not of leather, but of silk, velvet, etc. It is not until about 1400, with the exception of entirely isolated earlier examples, that a cross is to be found upon the sandals. The fork-shaped decoration, frequently found on pontifical shoes, especially on those of the thirteenth century, was not a cross, but merely an ornament.
BRAUN, Die pontif. Gewaender des Abendlandes (Freiburg, 1898); IDEM, Die liturg. Gewandung im Occident u. Orient (Freiburg, 1907); BOCK, Gesch. der liturg. Gewaender, II (Bonn, 1866); DE LINAS, Anciens vetements sacerdotaux (Paris, 1860-63); ROHAULT DE FLEURY, La messe, VIII (Paris, 1889).
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Obstat, Nihil. Lafort, Remy, Censor. Entry for 'Episcopal Sandals'. The Catholic Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/e/episcopal-sandals.html. Robert Appleton Company. New York. 1914.