QUAERITUR: sandals

From a reader:

When I was on vacation at Lookout Mountain, Georgia USA, I saw the
Priest wearing SANDALS with his vestments. Yeah – that surprised me,
too! Is this normal?

Shoes are rather new-fangled inventions, actually.

And there are many priests who belong to religious orders which require that they be “discalced… shoeless”.  They generally wear sandals.

I would instead focus on what the priest is doing during Holy Mass.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. medievalist says:

    Check out “Sandals and Fiddlebacks”:

  2. Thomas S says:

    Personally, I would never wear sandals, and I loathe their bastard cousin the “flip-flop.”

    That being said, I echo Fr. Z’s remarks. I’m from Boston, and if sandals are good enough for our Cardinal, then I have no complaints.

    Then again, if I saw a secualr priest wearing them, I’d probably roll my eyes 180 degrees into the back of my head.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    Several priests in our diocese wear sandals all the time. And, of course, most of the Franciscan brothers I know wear sandals. I assume in the first place, the sandals are worn either because they are comfortable, or simple, and in the second place, as part of a habit.

    I know some Dominicans, in habit, who wear the little white slipper-shoes all year round. Would the questioner approve of that?

  4. amicus1962 says:

    I know of a diocesan priest in the Philippines who celebrates Mass (exclusively the extraordinary form) barefoot. Not only that, he actually goes around everywhere barefoot. I was told that this was in strict observance of a vow he made. So, Thomas S, your eyes may pop out of their sockets if you see him. Personally, I have no problems if a priest celebrates barefoot like this priest if this is pursuant to a vow, as long as he washes his feet before processing into the sanctuary.

  5. revs96 says:

    Ritus Servandus (in the ’62 Missal) says the priest has to wear shoes when celebrating Mass. Would sandal’s count? Priests that have taken a vow of poverty in the Roman Rite typically wear sandals (and I don’t remember what the MFVA’s do in the TLM), but it is rather unbecoming a secular priest to wear sandals.

  6. biberin says:

    I’m accustomed to seeing Franciscans in Birkenstocks and fisherman’s sandals, but I’ll admit to rolling my eyes the first time I saw one at the altar in Tevas! ;)

  7. Stu says:

    Father Z of course wears shoes with buckles. ;)

  8. “Lookout Mountain”…. just had a flashback to a wonderful visit I had there back in 1996. Great bit of civil war history there, and the view… stunning. It doesn’t take much to see why it was such a strategic point to have.

  9. Frank H says:

    I see a number of our diocesan priests wearing black sandals with black socks.

  10. Magpie says:

    Turquoise Crocs on the other hand… =p

  11. swamp_rabbit says:

    Here in Taiwan, we have a number of French priests that help (due to the shortage of priests and near non-existent vocations)… They’re part of a society devoted to Saint Joseph, though I can’t remember the exact name. They are very devout young men (all in their 30’s), all say the black, do the red, and their Masses are extremely reverent. And yes, they wear sandals as part of their gray habit. Picking at that seems like picking at the pope because he wears “funny red shoes”…

  12. Fr. Basil says:

    Sandals are de rigeur for some religious orders, east and west.

    St. John Maximovitch used to go around barefoot at all times as an ascetical practice until his synod told him to stop. He obeyed.

    In the Chapel of the Burning Bush on Mt. Sinai, all persons, including the ministers, are required to be barefoot.

    I know a lady who as an act of poverty wears flip-flops all the time. My only objection is that they are bad for the feet.

  13. Geoffrey says:

    “Personally, I would never wear sandals, and I loathe their bastard cousin the ‘flip-flop.'”

    I never laughed so hard!

  14. Consider that some priests (or anyone, really) may not only wear sandals out of a promise or vow, but out of necessity or practicality. Shoes are not always comfortable or fit for all types or sizes of feet.

  15. Dean says:

    As a parish priest, Jaime Soto, now bishop of Sacramento, was noted for his affinity for huaraches (Mexican sandals), and only switched to shoes when reassigned to the chancery offices.

  16. Ellen says:

    I’ve known several priests who wear sandals. Some of them have foot problems – usually arthritis and thus the sandals. Personally, when it’s summer I live in my Chaco sandals. They are the most comfortable things imaginable.

  17. Carolina Geo says:

    Personally, I would never wear sandals, and I loathe their bastard cousin the “flip-flop.”

    I was wondering…

    Since the guy who invented them named them after the sound they make on your feet as you are walking, what would he have called them if he had started walking with his right foot first rather than his left foot? Flop-flips?

    I shouldn’t try to think in the morning before a cup of Mystic Monk coffee!

  18. Dear revs96,

    You are correct. Before 1962 it was forbidden to celebrate Mass wearing anything other than shoes. The Dominicans are a calzed order and always have been. But an elderly Capuchin Franciscan I knew when I first entered the Order in 1977 told me that they used to have boxes of shoes in Capuchin sacristies so that the friars could drop their sandals and put on shoes for celebration of Mass. Frankly, bare feet, even with sandals or flip-flops (I have seen both), really bother me. And Dominicans who contrary to the tradition of the Order wear them, well . . .

  19. pelerin says:

    I would rather see a Priest in sandals than trainers which I have seen!

  20. irishgirl says:

    There was a priest in my diocese back in the late 1970s who wore sandals ALL YEAR ROUND-even in the winter! He was a diocesan priest, but wore a brown robe like St. Francis (he was in the Third Order Secular Franciscans when I knew him). He was pretty intense when he said Mass and preached.
    He eventually transferred to the OFMs, and runs a soup kitchen in Philadelphia. A few times he has returned to his former diocese to do missions.

  21. wolfeken says:

    I put sandals in the same category as facial hair. Sandals/beards for priests in habits. No sandals / no facial hair for priests in cassocks.

    At least that has pretty much been the custom for quite some time.

  22. incorpore says:

    Not to diminish your question, nor imply that details don’t matter, but personally, when we arrive at the point when priests clad in sandals are a key concern I will fall to the floor and sing a Te Deum!

  23. I asked the question, and no I have no problems with the sandals. I was wondering if such things were liturgically correct. Thanks for the response, Father and all.

  24. templariidvm says:

    At the Capuchin high school I attended, nearly all priests and brothers wore sandals. Though there was one brother who wore cowboy boots :))

  25. jkm210 says:

    The priest who baptized me and witnessed my marriage (and my parents’) wears socks with sandals, exclusively. On Sundays he coordinates his socks to match the liturgical colors, except Christmas, when he usually wears one red and one green. He’s a diocesan priest but he’s at least 60 and been doing this forever, so I guess he’s never gotten in trouble.

  26. AnAmericanMother says:


    Socks with sandals? Must be an Englishman.

    Seriously, the little parish we go to when we visit my parents in S.GA is run by Franciscans, and they all wear sandals. They are a little wild and wooly in matters of music and homilies, and one of them DOES think he can play the guitar (he can’t) but they are good holy men, absolutely straight-arrow in the confessional, and they say the black and do the red.

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