Il saturno

The recent photos of His Holiness wearing his cappello romano has gotten a few people excited and curious. Some have even opined that now more clerics will obtain their own hat, of the appropriate color, of course. Well, I have had mine for a long time now. Here are photos.

I am merely holding them, since I was not otherwise properly dressed to wear what the Romans call either a il saturno or variously la padella (“frying pan”). You really need to be in a cassock for the use of the cappello romano and possibly, if you are a seminarian (once upon a time) a soprana or ferriaolietto, which I also have.

There was a custom of shaping them to have three points, almost like a tricorn, or giving the sides some curve, as the Holy Father recently did.

Here is the summer, or warmer weather hat:

Here is the winter, or colder weather version, which is I believe from rabbit fur.

I know a couple shops in Rome where clerics can still obtain a saturno. I suspect it will now become a great deal easier to find them. All things traditional are coming back to the shops in Rome. This is a trend that had been happily going on for some time. However, at the time I got my flat hats, they were hard to find. I got mine at what has become my regular hat store in the late 80’s. The owner of the shop, an old man then who has now passed the shop to the next generation, had to go back into their storage area to look. He brought out a dusty box with a hat from the reign of Bl. John XXIII. Here is a snap of the inside of the hat with the coat of arms or stemma of the Pope.

One other thing. The Holy Father’s hat, if you look closely, has small cords from the crown to the rim. This is much in the northern European style, as used in Beligium for example. I have one of these also, but can’t put my hands on it just now. The purpose of the cords was to help the hat keep its shape even when wet from the rain, etc.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Phil says:

    Just out of curiosity, Father, do you always go around with your head covered? I wish more people (in general, not just the clergy) still wore hats.

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    …since I was not otherwise properly dressed to wear what the Romans call either a il saturno or variously la padella

    Are we to draw the obvious inference that you were doing duty on the Sabine farm sans cassock? Shocking!

  3. Catholic Lady says:

    Styling and smiling

  4. Miguel Garcia says:

    Phil – I second that, I’d love to see men go back to wearing a nice fedora…

    Hey Father Z, is there a papal biretta as well? I’d like to see that come back too – perhaps the pope will model that one next!

  5. Miguel: I am not aware of a “papal biretta”. I don’t think there is anything to revive in that regard. On the other hand, the Norbetines use a white biretta.

  6. Hmmm…. looking again at the Holy Father’s hat, it do believe it might be a straw hat. Look closely at the photo at the bottom of the entry, on (our) right side. You can see the shadow of the cord I mentioned, but there appears to be a pattern woven into the rim. This would not be the case with a felt hat. You get just a glimpse of the same where the sun is bright on the crown at the very top on the right.

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    it do believe it might be a straw hat.

    I’m gonna try to keep quiet this expert opinion of yours, Fr. Z. My wife, upon her very first glance at this photo, condemned it roundly as a straw hat and thus a papal crudity of unexpected porportions. I protested loyally and vigorously that our beloved pope would never ever be seen in a red straw hat. No way! If you (and she) are right, how will I ever live this down?

  8. Ah, Henry, how long have you been married? Your wife will find out and
    you’ll probably get a smack on the keister. Your silence when
    you know the truth is probably some kind of sin (I defer to Father on
    whether it is or not).
    In any case, it’s definitely a dubious marital practice.
    I recommend jokingly admitting
    you were wrong and offering a 15-minute back-rub.

    No, you may not ever live it down but the back-rub will help! ;-)

  9. Fr Jerome says:

    Now I had a cappello Romano but lost it (on a pilgrimage, always the way) and now don’t have the opportunity much to visit Rome – is there anywhere on-line one could order one?

Comments are closed.