Wearing the color white

Question from Barb on 4/17/2008:

When one is welcoming the pope, is it appropriate to wear the color white in his presence? This question applies only when diginataries are welcoming the pope. I thought it is not appropriate to wear white at this time as that is the color assciated with the pope, as is the color yellow.

Answer by Catholic Answers on 4/17/2008:

According to traditional etiquette, only Catholic queens wore white when meeting the pope. The custom is called the "privilege du blanc." All other women, including female dignitaries, were expected to wear black.

That said, this is a point of social protocol only and apparently is not currently enforced by Vatican officials. A friend of mine once met John Paul II while bareheaded and wearing white. (She had intended to wear a veil, indeed had it in hand, but forgot to put it on in the excitement of the moment.) Of course, those women who wish to observe the traditional clothing customs remain free to do so.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

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