LEON, Mexico (CBS/RTV) -- Outgoing Pope Benedict will trade in his red papal shoes for loafers given to him by Mexican shoemakers last year, the Vatican has announced.
As the Pope prepares to retire on Thursday (February 28) he will discard his papal attire in exchange for a "simple white cassock" and loafers from the Ackerman shoe company given to him during his visit to Leon, Mexico in 2012, the Vatican said.
Armando Martin Dueñas, chairman of Ackerman, said the Pope's gesture shows his appreciation for Leon and should make his workers and the people from the city proud.
"The fact the Holy Father is happy with his shoes, wants to continue wearing them for the rest of his life and loves the shoes we made for him, is a show of his love towards us. We should feel very proud of this gesture and commentary from His Holiness," he said.
Leon is known for its shoemaking, and residents in the city have thrived on the leather and footwear industry for decades.
Dueñas said his company thoroughly researched in order to find the softest leather and perfect color for the shoes.
"We set upon the task of investigating, once we had the confirmation (that he would wear them) and we tested more than seven types of leather until we found natural calfskin, a leather that is very soft due to its characteristics and we tested different colors to reach our final choice. The color we used is called 'bishop red,'" he said.
Dueñas said several priests and bishops have requested similar shoes from the shoemaker.
Ackerman has already sent three pairs of shoes to Pope Benedict, including some pairs in black. The company employs 65 people and makes about 83,000 pairs of shoes annually.
Pope Benedict bid an emotional farewell at his last general audience on Wednesday (February 27), in an unusually public outpouring for such a private man. Benedict will move to the papal summer residence south of Rome on Thursday night (February 28) and later to a convent in the Vatican.