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Friday, September 3, 2010

Politicos and Popes: Mantilla Action in the Vatican

There is a very specific dress code  for heads of states and their spouses when receiving a papal audience at the Vatican.

Protocol requires that women wear a mantilla or hat. And unless you're a Catholic monarch, you'd better be dressed in black.

The United States 

Barack and Michelle Obama with Pope Benedict XVI, 10 July 2009 

Laura Bush with Pope Benedict XVI, 9 February 2006

George and Laura Bush with Pope John Paul II, 4 June 2004 

Bill and Hillary Clinton with Pope John Paul II, 2 June 1994

Ronald and Nancy Reagan with Pope John Paul II, 7 June 1987 

First Lady Betty Ford at the Vatican 
with President Gerald Ford to meet Pope Paul VI, 3 June 1975

Richard and Pat Nixon with Pope Paul VI, 29 September 1970

Jacqueline Kennedy with Pope Paul VI, July 2, 1963

Jacqueline Kennedy with Pope John XXIII, 11 March 1962

The United Kingdom 

Queen Elizabeth with Pope John Paul II, 17 October 2000 

Queen Elizabeth with Pope John Paul II, 17 October 1980

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip 
with Pope John XXIII, 5 May 1961

Baroness Thatcher with Pope Benedict XVI, 27 May 2009

Baroness Thatcher with Pope John Paul II, 1980

Margaret Thatcher with Pope Paul VI, June 1977

The First Wife: Prince Charles and Princess Diana 
with Pope John Paul II, April 1985

And the Mistress/2nd Wife:  Prince Charles and Camilla 
with Pope Benedict XVI, 28 April 2009

Catholic Monarchs (Europe): Privilège du blanc

Henri and Maria Teresa, Grand Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg 
and their daughter, Princess Alexandria 
with Pope Benedict XVI, 8 May 2006

Queen Paola of Belgium on her way to see
Pope Benedict XVI, 10 October 2009

Queen Paola of Belgium (again) with Pope Benedict XVI 
and King Albert, 10 October 2009

Belgium's Queen Paola and King Albert II 
with John Paul II, 15 May 1998

 Queen Sofia of Spain (right) at Pope Benedict XVI's 
first mass as Pontiff, 24 April 2005. 
The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg is on the left. 

The King and Queen of Italy with Pope Pius XII, 30 December 1939

Italian Crown Prince, Umberto of Italy 
and the Crown Princess, Marie Jose, 
at the Coronation of Pope Pius XII, 30 March 1939

Other Nations

Mexico, South Africa, India, Britain, Sweden, EU

Pope Benedict XVI with Margarita Zavala, wife of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Nompumelelo Mantuli, wife of South African President Jacob Zuma, Gursharan Kaur, wife of Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh, Sarah Brown, wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Filippa Reinfeldt, wife of Swedish Prime Minster Fredrik Reinfeldt, Maria Margarita Barroso, wife of EU President Jose Manuel Barroso, Juliana Olabintan Nwanze, wife of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) president Kanayo Nwanze during a private audience on July 8, 2009

Second photo of the Holy Father with the First Ladies 
(taken at a meeting during the G8 Summit)

Eva Peron, First Lady of Argentina,
 leaving the Vatican following an audience 
with Pope Pius XII, 29 June 1947

Pope Benedict with President Fischer 
and his wife, Margit, 5 October 2006

 President of Brazil, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva 
and First Lady Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva 
with Pope Benedict XVI, 13 November 2008

 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper 
and his wife, Laureen Harper, 
and children with Pope Benedict XVI, 30 June 2009

The then Colombian President, Álvaro Uribe Vélez
and his wife, Lina María Moreno Mejía, 
with Pope Benedict XVI, 30 April 2009

President Demetris Christofias and his wife Elsie 
with Pope Benedict XVI, 27 March 2009

Czech Republic
Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer and his wife 
with Pope Benedict XVI, 14 November 2009

El Salvador
President of El Salvador, Elias Antonio Saca Gonzalez 
and his wife Ana Ligia Mixco Sol de Saca with Pope Benedict XVI, 7 May 2009

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon 
and his wife Penelope (and sons)
with Pope Benedict XVI, 10 October 2009

The then French President, Jacques Chirac and his wife Bernadette
with Pope John Paul II, 20 January 1996

Former French Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur
and his wife, Marie-Josèphe Delacour
with Pope John Paul II, 27 November 1993

Pope Benedict XVI with President Ali Ben Bongo 
and his wife, 10 December 2009

Former President Horst Koehler and his wife Eva Luisa 
with Pope Benedict XVI, 5 December 2009

The then First Lady of Germany, Eva Luisa Koehler 
in a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, 18 November 2006


Pope Benedict XVI with Greek President Papoulias
and his wife Mey Panou, 28 January 2006

Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and his wife, Thana, 
with Pope John Paul II, 2004

President of Ireland, Sean Thomas O’Kelly 
and his wife, Mary Kate Ryan, received by Pope Pius XII.

Prime Minister Golda Meir and Pope Paul VI,  1973

Prime Minister Romano Prodi and his wife Flavia
with Pope Benedict XVI 13 October 2006

Pope John Paul II with Romano Prodi
and family, October 28, 2004

Queen Rania with Pope Benedict XVI, 9 February 2007

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his wife, Lara 
 with Pope Benedict XVI, 20 February 2010

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and his wife Huda Bsat
with Pope Benedict XVI 16 February 2006

King Letsie III and Queen Karabo of Lesotho 
with Pope John-Paul II, 29 February 2000

Pope Benedict XVI with President Valdas Adamkus
and his wife, Alma Adamkienė, 28 April 2007

 President George Abela of Malta and his wife Margaret 
with Pope Benedict XVI 18 June 2009 

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and his wife Kate 
with Pope Benedict XVI, 18 January 2007

Pope Benedict XVI with Margarita Zavala 
(wife of Mexico's President Felipe Calderon), 19 December 2007

Princess Grace Kelly with Pope Pius XII, 6 May 1957

Princess Grace following an audience 
with Pope John XXIII, 18 June 1959
(video footage here

Pope Paul VI with Prince Rainier, Princess Grace,
Prince Albert, and Princess Stephanie, 25 March 1974

 Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and his wife Lidija
with Pope Benedict XVI, 14 December 2009

Pope Benedict XVI with President Enrique Bolanos Geyer
and his wife, Lila Abaunza, 15 May 2006

King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway
with Pope John Paul II, 25 October 2001

Pope Benedict XVI with Maria Gloria Penayo
(wife of Paraguay's President Duarte Frutos), 29 October 2007

Imelda Marcos with Pope John Paul II, 8 July 1983

The late Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria,
with Pope Benedict XVI, 18 May 2009

Maria and Lech Kaczynski (again)
with Pope Benedict XVI, 26 January 2006

President Alexander Kwasniewski with his wife Jolanta
with Pope John-Paul II, 8 April 2000

Maria Cavaco Silva, wife of Portugal President Anibal Cavaco Silva,
 with Pope Benedict XVI 28 June 2008

Portugese First Lady Maria Jose Ritta
with former President Jorge Sampaio
and Pope John Paul II, 12 November 2004

Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia
with Pope John Paul II
28 June 2004

Princess Elena with Pope John Paul II,
29 September 1995

Pope Benedict XVI with President Ronald Venetiaan
 and his wife Lisbeth, 20 November 2009

Pope John-Paul II with the Swedish Royal family,
13 November 1999

King Bhumipol and Queen Sirikit of Thailand 
with Pope John XXIII, 1960.

(for video footage see here)

A second photo of King Bhumipol 
and Queen Sirikit with Pope John XXIII

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko 
with Pope Benedict, 16 October 2009

Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko 
and his wife Kateryna Mykhailiva Yushchenko
with Pope Benedict XVI, 1 June 2009


  1. wow! Awesome. I had seen the ones with the American 1st Ladies but not the other countries. One of the biggest reasons I started wearing a mantilla is because people do so in the presence of the Pope. If people do so for the Pope than it must be an important part of the Church, but imagine when you are the presence of Christ. Christ is even more important than the Pope, yet no one covers their heads for him. Makes one think.

  2. I agree with deltaflute!

  3. Thank you for posting all these pictures. Jacqueline Kennedy and Grace Kelly are unsurpassed in beauty, dignity and class. Wearing one's hair back or off the face seems to look better with the veil, as well as the longer skirt / dress. Shorter dresses aren't flattering to the older / heavier set. Plus it's more awkward to sit properly with a shorter skirt.

  4. Awesome collection of photos. Yes, Jackie looks so lovely and Grace If it is protocol to veil while visiting the Pope then by all means it makes absolute sense to veil in the presence of our Lord. Thanks for posting.

  5. Our Catholic Telegraph diocese newspapaper showed a picture of Michelle Obama with her veil when she was visiting the Holy Father. It is so nice to see these photots. Thanks for putting them together.

  6. The photos are lovely. And it is beautiful to see the tradition continued. I also like to see veils in church. But it is an option and I don't like women being judged if they do not wear one. And if they do, the tradition should be understood. I know a very judgemental lady who wears her veil incorrectly. She walks into church and puts her veil on before mass and takes it off after mass. The veil, if it is going to be worn, should be on before one enters the church and taken off afterwards.