Thai convent weaves 'beautiful' robes for Pope Francis visit

Thai Sister Saengpradab holds the embroidered headwear over the silk robe of Pope Francis at the Praharuthai Convent in Bangkok.

Thai Sister Saengpradab holds the embroidered headwear over the silk robe of Pope Francis at the Praharuthai Convent in Bangkok.

AFP/Romeo Gacad

BANGKOK - Sewing machines whir in a Bangkok convent as workers feverishly finish silk robes in brilliant golds and reds, made especially for Pope Francis and his entourage visiting Thailand this month.

The whirlwind trip will see the head of the Catholic Church meet top officials, host masses and visit the Catholic faithful in the Buddhist-majority country. 

Seamstresses at the Praharuthai Convent in Bangkok are working hard ahead of the trip to ensure Pope Francis and his bishops, deacons and priests are decked out in the country's finest threads. 

"I feel happy and very proud that our convent has been selected to do this most honourable job," said Sister Sukanya, who oversees the tailoring. 

She and her team of about a dozen seamstresses have been working long days for two months on the more than 200 robes, many stacked neatly in the convent next to round handmade hats.

The two most important pieces -- two matching robes for the pontiff -- are ready to go, displayed proudly side-by-side on a pair of mannequins. 

Embroidered with an intricate "kanok" pattern -- a ubiquitous Thai motif seen on clothing, furniture and artwork -- the custom-made gold and yellow design will be worn by the pope at his first mass on 21 November. 

The following day he's set to sport a nearly identical robe in red and gold colours. 

Thailand is renowned for its silk and the convent was selected for the job because it has been making custom-made religious garments for generations. 

For the sisters at Praharuthai Convent, the job is an honour of a lifetime -- and a chance to show off traditional tailoring. 

"Our Thai style is a beautiful creation," Sister Saengpradab told AFP, as seamstresses hunched under a Jesus statue nearby, measuring, cutting and sewing reams of silk.

Source
AFP