Benedict XVI's shoemaker publishes book about his experience making pope's shoes

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His name is Antonio Arellano. He was born in Trujillo, Peru, and he's been in Italy for 30 years. His profession, hard work and dedication have led him to make shoes for all types of people, but there's one in particular that has marked his life, thanks to a special pair of red shoes: Benedict XVI.

Shoemaker and author of “Il Calzolaio del Papa”
“It was a huge joy. [When they called me,] I shared this happiness with my son, Daniel. I told him, They ordered my shoes for Benedict! This is great! It was wonderful! That's how I felt.”

From that moment, a lasting friendship grew between the German pope and this Peruvian cobbler.

Shoemaker and author of “Il Calzolaio del Papa”
“On my 50th birthday, by 10 a.m., no one had called me to wish me a happy birthday. My phone hadn't rung. In that moment, the pope's driver showed up. He said to me, 'The Holy Father sends you a gift and his congratulations.'”

Antonio has collected thousands of anecdotes during his 30 years in this profession. He recounts some of them in his book, “Il Calzolaio del Papa” (the pope's shoemaker). In it, he shares the secrets that made his dream come true.

Shoemaker and author of “Il Calzolaio del Papa”
“Faith is big. Having faith is the most beautiful thing in life. It is life. Faith moves mountains. Having faith in God and trying to keep your head in the right place allows you to accomplish great things, but you always need to work—to work with love. Everything you do, do it for a good reason, not so much for money. Do it for a good cause, and then the money will come.”

Antonio runs his store a short distance away from the Vatican. His son, Daniel, helps him with his work.

They're attentive, hard-working and detail-oriented. They have an unusual ability to connect with their customers, making them feel like family. Many consider them true shoe-making artists.

Shoemaker and author of “Il Calzolaio del Papa”
“When the shoe is ready, you take out the mold and look at it. I just say, 'Oh my gosh! It's beautiful!' I say to myself, 'Great job, Antonio!'”

That same enthusiasm is what goes into each of his shoes, from the classics to the most colorful, those for important public figures to those he makes for daily use.

Hard work and passion are part of the small details he talks about in his book, “Il Calzolaio del Papa.” It's currently available in Italian and will be translated into Spanish and English.

Daniel Díaz Vizzi

Translation: CT

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