The most incredible super-splediferous ecclesiastical HAT site ever!

You simply must check this out.

This site has pictures of every ecclesiastical hat I have ever heard of and quite a few I haven’t.


I’ve gotta get me one of these!




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. Geoffrey says:

    Amazing indeed! I’ve never seen so many ecclesiastical hats!

  2. Timothy James says:

    Care to give us a translation, Fr Z?
    J/K, though that would make a good penance for a german-speaking confesser!

  3. Patrick says:

    Truly amazing. Good information on heraldry too. Does anyone know of someone who does heraldry for clerics?

  4. Berolinensis says:


    the one you want is the classical “bonete”, the biretta as worn in Spain. Sadly, it has fallen all but into disuse there. With the diminished use of the biretta, local varieties are also disappearing. The German one used to have four “cornua” instead of the three of the Roman one.

  5. Jim says:

    Bring Back the Biretta!!! It is not yet a casualty of modernism.

  6. David Andrew says:

    I say we all “pass the hat” (you’ll pardon the pun) and get one of these cursive good hats for the good Fr. Z!

  7. W says:

    Father Z,

    I’ve been doing some research on the internet and a couple of sources have said no but they did not quote any offical church documentation to support their claims. May seminarians not yet ordained to the transitional diaconate wear the pom on their biretta? One other thing, obviously they would wear it when in choir but under what other circumstances may they wear one?

  8. bryan says:

    Heraldry…yeah, a priest in the Diocese of Metuchen NJ, Fr. Guy Selvester:


  9. Victor says:

    Berolinensis, Fr Z.:
    I somewhere read that every cleric who finishes his doctorate in Rome gets a fourth “cornu”, but alumni of German theological faculties receive it already at their master’s, because German universities are so much more academic than the Roman ones. I am not sure if I should believe this claim – do you know more about it?

    Fr Z.: Happy Christmas, and thank you so much for your blog! I check it daily!

    Berolinensis: I understand you are from Berlin? We totally should grab a coffee (or beer) someday – I am from Potsdam! Happy Christmas to you, too!

  10. Doug says:

    Indeed the biretta has not completely gone out of use. It, in fact, never went out of use with the traditional Anglo-Catholics and, certainly, the traditional RC catholics have not relegated it to the dust bin. I am a child of the traditional Anglo-Catholic church…those awaiting the inevitable reunification with Rome. I am quite used to our priests wearing the biretta to the foot of the alter, handing it off (with a kiss to the hand) to the server (or deacon at a High Mass)…and the removal at the name of Jesus when seated in the sedilia (three times after which it remains off for good).

  11. Malta says:

    I think the Biretta is a fine tradition, but we should avoid the Burger King look:

  12. Malta says:

    Fr. Z, here is another gem I found on the link you provided supra!

  13. Confused Seminarian says:

    I would also like to hear an answer to W’s question. I’ve been given different answers by different people:

    1) Seminarians wear the same biretta as a priest and so may have a pom.
    2) Seminarians may not have a pom.
    3) College seminarians may not have a pom, but theology seminarians may.

    I have no idea which, if any of these, is correct. I’d appreciate some clarity on the matter.

  14. Jeff says:

    As far as I am aware the Church has placed no restrictions on the use of the pom on a biretta. Any distinctions between seminarians and ordained members is artificial. However one must take into account that under the 1917 CIC, the clerical state was attached to tonsure, where as in the 1983 CIC it is attached to the diaconate. Thus is the use of the biretta limited to those in the clerical state? Again the Church has never issued guideline on the matter. I believe that the pom, whether present or absent, or its size is a matter of style. What I would like to see is where those who would limit the use of the pom, by what authority do they do so.

    There are some interesting practices that people put forward as authoritative that have no basis in the rubrics. I’m not talking about liturgical abuses but rather being more strict in matters than the Church herself is. I recall a seminarian who had developed this distinction about which side of the waist the ordained or non-ordained could place the knot of their cincture. Also I was at an ordination where the MC said that you don’t put incense in the thurible for the entrance procession of Mass, only the Pope gets that. I have also seen incense in the recessional.

    When it comes to the pom, the only thing the Church has regulated is the color of the pom and who may wear which color, and even then from what I understand there is some debate.

    In choir dress it would be difficult to distinguish a seminarian, from a deacon, from a priest, unless the ordained members were wearing a fariolo, in place of this a seminarian would wear a different kind of cloak.

  15. Melody says:

    Dear Father,
    While Christmas shopping today I saw a sight so strange that I was moved to laugh out loud, then take a few pictures…
    Do you see the thing as I did, or have I just been spending too much time reading your blog. Or is clerical attire the next new fashion?

  16. Interesting, but this site did not answer a
    question that I have. Maybe it is in there someplace,
    and I missed it. Does anyone know the traditional
    form of the biretta bestowed on those being given the
    Master of Sacred Theology (Sacrae Theologiae Magister, STM)
    in the Dominican order?

    This is an honorary degree beyond the doctorate, not a “masters”
    or a normal degree biretta like that of the Dominican pictured.
    There is also a ring involved. Does anyone know the form?


  17. dominic1962 says:

    Clerical attire is not limited to actual legal clerics-this includes the biretta. Much of what a seminarian wears is determined by his diocese or by the liturgy he is participating in.

    1. The biretta of a seminarian can have a pom or not, it doesn’t really matter except for some local customs. Noonan’s book (which has errors, but is a great idea and could really be even better with an updated and corrected edition) says that seminarians do not have poms on their birettas, traditional priests tell me otherwise.

    2. The ferraioulo is not part of choir dress. Choir dress for non-prelates(generally speaking) includes cassock (with fascia and collar, of course) and surplice with biretta generally optional-especially with the NO and in practical matters with the EF as well. I know that the FSSP seminarians generally don’t wear birettas in choir.

  18. RomaLindy says:

    Father Z.

    Could you do an article on “What does the Hymn Mean” Adeste Fidelis?

    Thank you.
    Have a Merry Christmas

  19. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    Hey, Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P.

    I realize that many religious priests dress like diocesan priests, and that many religous congregations founded in the past couple of centuries may indeed utilize the biretta, but I didn’t know that the religious orders had the tradition of birettas. I’m really too young to remember anything like that.

    But anyway, saying you’re right, since you are a Dominincan, don’t forget that Saint Pius V was a Dominican, and he wore the triple tiara, which is THE biretta of birettas, so to speak, for any Sacrae Theologiae Magister who also happens to be Pope: Magister_IUM. Pius V had the Fisherman’s Ring. Just joking. This has nothing to do with biretta’s or any ring.

    Aside from jokes, I’m guessing that the higher ups of the Dominicans would not tolerate even the thought of such a question as yours. I mean, the Dominican rite, along with great men such as Vansteenkiste, O.P., are largely being forgotten, along with such traditions about which you conjecture… Isn’t that true? Does any Magister come to mind that you could even ask such a question? But then, maybe your question is a sign of a revival in the Dominicans. Wow. Anything can happen. May the Lord bless you and keep you, and your parish too!

  20. Sharon says:

    Here in Australia we call it a pom-pom.

  21. Fr Ó Buaidhe says:

    Can anyone tell me who would have worn/wears the blue skullcaps?


  22. Christian says:

    Jeff, Fr Z,

    According to a few seminarians I know the fariolo is allowed for seminarians but only after they have finished the philosophy stint of their course. This seems to be the common practice in Rome. They also say that Pom-poms are not allowed for seminarians in the New Rite but are allowed in the Old Rite (thus they know who is a trad by who owns a biretta with a pom-pom).

  23. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    Christian said: thus they know who is a trad by who owns a biretta with a pom-pomm

    I think anyone wearing any kind of biretta would have been shot dead in most non-trad places I know. You have a most amazing statement, indicating, perhaps, that the gravitational pull of 1962 on the N.O. is going much, MUCH faster than any of thought possible. Wow. However…

    Caveat emptor: once you acquire your biretta with a pom-pom and try to draw a line in the sand with a pom-pom, trying to make sure you know who’s who, you only get such mush that both sides will cross over to the other unwittingly. Pom-poms are like that. Nothing you can do about it.

    But maybe that is a double-reverse of the gravitational pull of 1962 and N.O., one on the other, so that this happens whatever we might think about it. The N.O. crowd might get pom-poms and the 1962 crowd might settle for no pom-poms if none are, in fact, available just then.

    Cheers. Just having fun. Here’s to you receiving an assortment of birettas (with or without pom-poms) for Christmas. Why not one with a removable/replaceable pom-pom?

    Anyway, whatever it looks like, I’d like to see as definitive a list as possible for the precise uses of the biretta.

  24. elizabeth mckernan says:

    Interested to learn that the American word for what we call pom-pom is pom! I believe the Australians call British people poms!
    Wishing you a Happy and Peaceful Christmas, Father Z!

  25. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    pom = P.O.H.M. = Prisoners of His/Her Majesty… in the penal colony of Australia, where the term is disparaging, although someone with generations of prisoners in their lineage is proud of it, I suppose as a way to say that they’ve been there longer than others, but, um, let’s remember the Aborigines!

  26. Joshua says:

    Both the Ceremonies of the Roman Rite and the Celebration of the Mass (by Fortesque, O’Connell, Reid and O’Connell respectively) state that a pom-pom cannot be on a normal priest’s hat, and they cited legislation. Of course that probably isn’t still in force, and it may have even been regional. I don’t have them handy, but I do know that the former book states that a priest may have a tuft, but not a pom-pom. Not sure what the distinction is.

  27. David Kubiak says:

    Surely the piping on a protonotary’s zuchetto is red and not purple.

    The purple biretta was granted to bishops as late as Leo XIII, I think as a reward for their expressions of good will on one of his anniversaries.

    Many of the elaborate instructions one finds in the older documents were an attempt to regulate abuses. I think many were followed only in the breach. And there is chaos now apropos ‘Ut sive sollicite’ (‘nefasta scriptio’) with so many prelates, beginning with the Pope, are bringing back suppressed items of vesture. I believe, for example, that after ‘Ut sive’ all canons were to assume a gray mozzetta if they were entitled to one. That certainly is not now the case.

    The basic problem is that once some item of vesture is formally suppressed it cannot be formally returned, since the Church would seem to be endorsing ‘triumphalism’. Silent readoption of these things must be the road to a new customary law.

  28. Caeremoniarius says:

    @ Fr Renzo:
    The biretta is worn primarily when seated; put it on after you sit, remove it before you rise. No one standing or walking in church may wear a biretta, unless arrayed in sacred vestments (at minimum, a stole over the surplice), except that it may be worn while preaching; nor is it worn in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or in a procession of relics of the Passion.
    Even when vested, one removes the biretta when bowing, kneeling, genuflecting, making the sign of the cross, being incensed, when at the altar or assisting the Celebrant, distributing candles, ashes, or palms, giving or receiving a blessing, or carrying a relic or image; also, the biretta is not worn from the sedilia to the altar, or vice versa.

    @Joshua et al.: “The Celebration of Mass” only addresses the (non-usage of the)
    biretta, not the adornment on top. The Reid edition of “Ceremonies of the Roman
    Rite” makes a false distinction between a “tuft” (which Reid permits) and a “pom-
    pom” (which Reid forbids); I would note that some authors (e.g., McCloud) disallow
    a *tassel* on the biretta. Historically, once the tuft/pompon [correct spelling,
    btw] made its appearance on the biretta, the only clerics who eschewed it were
    members of religious congregations. In any case, seminarians studying for the
    secular priesthood always had the tuft/pompon on the biretta, as any old
    photograph of them will verify.

  29. Caeremoniarius says:

    Dear Prof Kubiak,
    You are correct: the piping on the PA’s zucchetto matches the trim on his
    ecclesiastical hat–red. (Cf. Inter multiplices, nn. 16-17) And yes, the
    purple biretta was a gift to the bishops from Leo XIII.

    @ all:

    The word for the Roman cloak is “ferraiolo” (old spelling, “ferraiuolo”); this
    is the narrower black cloak worn (most notably) by Christopher Reeve in the
    film “Monsignor” in the earlier part of the movie (when he portrays a simple
    priest). The large, wide Roman cloak worn by dignitaries (think of the
    prelate reading the “biglietto” at the beginning of the film “The Cardinal”) is
    the “ferraiolone” (old sp., “ferraiuolone”). As dominic1962 notes, it’s not
    part of choir dress, but of the “abito piano.”

  30. Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    Among religious congregations the custom is to wear the biretta but without the pompon. The pompon is viewed as an adornment and as such is contrary to the vow of poverty. Members of religious orders do not wear the biretta since their habits all have hood, the exception being an academic biretta during an academic function.

  31. Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    The various colors, other than those used by prelates, are or at one time were used by the different Roman seminaries along with variously colored cassocks. I believe the custom has fallen into disuse.

  32. WFW says:

    Does anyone know how a biretta is folded? I have one that is collapsible but I can’t figure out how it works.

  33. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    To Caeremoniarius and Fr Scott Bailey:


    Sorry, Fr Z! Imitation is the highest form of compliment. It’s your fault for putting up this great post! You might start seeing birettas everywhere. And that’s not such a bad thing. Happy, Holy Christmas!

  34. RBrown says:

    Among religious congregations the custom is to wear the biretta but without the pompon. The pompon is viewed as an adornment and as such is contrary to the vow of poverty. Members of religious orders do not wear the biretta since their habits all have hood, the exception being an academic biretta during an academic function.
    Comment by Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.

    That was one of the problems before VatII–it is one thing for a cassock-wearing religious to use the biretta but another for a Dominican or Franciscan.

    I was alerted to the problem by one of my Angelicum profs, a friend to Fontgombault and the FSSP and colleague of JRatzinger

  35. Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:


    I have seen members of orders carry the academic biretta and drape the academic hood over their left arm. I don’t know if this is “proper” but it seems to make more sense.

  36. Dear Fr. Bailey,

    I am a member of a mendicant order, and I have never seen the
    practice you describe. Perhaps it is a Redemporist use.

    In my order (Dominicans), friar academics, with an ecclesiastical title,
    wear the academic hood over the full habit (with cappa–the
    black cape) and wear the *academic* biretta in academic functions.
    Those with a secular title wear, on such occasions,
    with the hood, the “mortar-board”
    or other headgear of their title. So it has been for centuries,
    if paintings and engravings are correct. In this and the past
    century, I can speak from personal experience.

    Saddly, in recent years, the practice of wearing an academic
    gown *over the habit* has become common. This is, in my opinion,
    a very odd practice, to say the least. The gown is a modified
    habit itself. And there is absolutely no evidence this was ever done.
    It is my understanding that the use of the cap (or biretta) and the
    hood with the habit (or the cassock and surplice) was always
    the proper practice for clerics–even in the U.S.A. Correct me
    if I am wrong and cite the source.

    In fact, the ring wore by those with the honorary title of
    Sacrae Theologiae Magister (S.T.M.) is the only piece of
    jewerly ever worn (at least according to traditional practice)
    among Dominicans. And that historically, only on academic
    occasions, I believe.

  37. WFW: to fold your biretta, here is what you do.

    Look at it
    carefully, or better feel it. You will find that on two opposing
    sides there is a kink in the material on the flat top. Those
    are the fold sides.

    When you find them, hold the biretta
    with your hands on the bottom edge on those two sides and
    place your thumbs on the top edge of the square on those sides.

    Push down with your thumbs and those folding sides should
    collapse in, closing the biretta up.

  38. WFW says:

    Thanks so much–I tried it and it worked. Merry Christmas!

  39. Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. says:

    Fr. Thompson,

    Actually, they were Franciscans. The practice of Redemptorists is to wear the hood as they are not an order but a congregation and our habit does not have a hood already.

    As I wrote, I have seen it but I don’t know if it is proper. It does make more sense to me that anyone whose habit has a hood would not wear the academic hood as well…seems a bit overdone. Carrying it seems to be the better option.

  40. Berolinensis says:


    I am only reading your comment now. A happy Christmas (we’re still in the Octave after all) to you, too. In case you want to contact me, you can drop me a line at gregor dot kollmorgen [at] t-online dot de

Comments are closed.