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On television screens around the world yesterday, people watched as Pope Benedict XVI gave up the Chair of St. Peter. As he did that he also gave up his trademark red shoes. And after slipping those off, he put on a pair of handmade Mexican loafers.

NPR's Carrie Kahn has this tale of a happy cobbler.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: When Pope Benedict came to Mexico last year, Armando Martin Duenas, a fourth generation artisan, gave the pontiff three pairs of his custom hand made loafers. To his great surprise a Vatican spokesman announced this week that, in retirement, the new Emeritus Pope Benedict, asked specifically for the Mexican shoes.


KAHN: Martin said we are thrilled, thoroughly satisfied that the pope loves his shoes, which are made from the skins of newborn lambs. Martin's factory only makes a thousand pairs a month. And Jose Luis Rocha, Martin's childhood friend and U.S.-based business partner, says despite all the interest, there are no plans to speed up production.

Unfortunately, the pope's preference came a bit too early for the company. Their U.S. Web site isn't set to launch until March 11th. Retail price for the shoes will list at about $200. However, Rocha says the one's given to the pope, well, those were priceless.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.


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