Antonio Arellano could hardly believe his eyes when he learned that one of his most loyal clients was announced as the Vatican's new head of state in 2005. The man now known as Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was for many years a regular at Arellano's tiny shoe shop near St. Peter's Square in Rome.
Cardinals, priests and bishops all stop by Arellano's shop to get their shoes fixed. Born in Trujillo, Peru, to a family of cobblers, Arellano moved to Rome 20 years ago and worked at shoe factories before opening his store a decade ago.
Speaking in a curious blend of Italian and Spanish, Arellano told Univision's Pablo Monzalvo that one of his proudest moments was making the red papal shoes worn by Pope Benedict during John Paul II's beatification in 2011.
"To fix [shoes] is one thing, but to make new ones is another," said Arellano at his shop. "I can now say with pride, yes I've made shoes for the pope."
Pope Benedict, however, will not wear red papal shoes on his last day on the job on February 28. Instead, he will wear another pair of shoes also made by a Latin American: a brown leather pair given to him during his visit to Mexico last year.