Biretta sighting

Thanks to my friend Fr. Robert Johansen of Thrown Back we know what clerics are up to at the Liturgical Institute near Chicago:

This is what you may receive from us at the mention of liturgical dance:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Lighter fare, Mail from priests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Mike says:

    Those faces–and birettas–could stop a Director of Liturgy in her tracks.

    Would they were in my parish!

  2. Rose in NE says:

    LOL! This made my day!

  3. Andy Milam says:

    Fantastic picture!!!

    I think that I remember getting the same look from you, Fr. Altier, and the Monsignor upon my return an afternoon liturgical event from St. Thomas c. 1998. There were a lot of those looks, if I recall correctly…. >:0p

    I know you were all wearing cassocks, but not the birettas.

    Ahh, the memories….

  4. Thomas S says:

    What are the non-liturgical uses of the biretta? Can it be worn like any other hat by a priest (obviously with cassock)? In movies I’m always seeing the biretta’ed priest wearing it out and about.

    I love when priests dress the part. I’ve seen too many necktied Jesuits in my educational life.

  5. So what’s the liturgical rubric for British spies?

    I mean, James Bond carried a Biretta. :)

  6. Father S. says:

    The biretta is not a liturgical hat, thought it may be used during some parts of the sacred liturgies. It is most definitely an out-and-about hat. I have to say, though, that I prefer my black zucchetto for daily wear with my cassock.

  7. Catholicman says:

    I know the priest on the left! Fr. Dana Christensen from the Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD (I don’t think it’s a problem identifying him here as he is identified on the ThrownBack blog). A great priest and solid liturgical mind!

  8. Father S. says:

    RE: Suburbanbanshee

    Actually, the firearm is a “beretta” whereas this is a “biretta.” We who wear them get that question a lot.

  9. An American Mother says:

    Fr. S, when you say “we who wear them” I guess you’re referring to the headgear and not the sidearm! [ g ]

    Ian Fleming’s Bond toted a Walther PPK for most of his career. I never understood why it was in the underpowered .32 Colt instead of the not quite so underpowered 9mm kurz (a/k/a .380 Colt). Or why he didn’t just cut to the chase and carry a 1911A1.

  10. CarpeNoctem says:

    I figured they were rocked out of bed by the 4.0 earthquake this morning.

  11. Thomas S says:

    Father S.,

    Thanks for the clarification. But I have a new question then: what is customary in a social setting for the biretta? Should it be taken off indoors like any layman should with his hat? Removed when a lady enters? Or does it have a different status?

    American Mother,

    Fleming’s Bond didn’t adopt the Walther PPK until his 5th novel, DOCTOR NO. A firearms expert wrote to Fleming and told him the beretta was more suitable for a lady’s handbag (a line actually used in the movie itself). He recommended the Walther in its place, so Fleming had M force Bond into switching guns using his near-death encounter with Rosa Klebb at the end of the previous novel, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE as the reason. This is alluded to in the movie version even though DR. NO was the first movie and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE wasn’t made until a year later.

  12. An American Mother says:

    Yeah, it was a Beretta 418 . . . but that’s not a gun, that’s a toy. .25 Auto – as my dear old dad says, “I hate like #(*(&*^ to shoot a man and then stand there and argue with him.”

    I have a Baby Browning, but it’s purely a curiosity. I reloaded a few rounds (1.6 gr Bullseye) just to prove to myself that it was physically possible, but it’s a worthless caliber, less muzzle energy than .22 LR.

    I get the impression that Fleming wasn’t very familiar with firearms.

  13. An American Mother: Where did you get your knowledge of sidearms? I have not met anyone with that weapon knowledge (I confess to being a paper-pusher) since I was a lieutenant in the Military Police (and weapons instructor) forty-five years ago.

  14. TJerome says:

    I wish this was the pastoral team at my parish, instead of the McBrien/Obama lovers. Great photo. Tom

  15. trespinos says:

    Excellent photo! Gravitas x 3, that’s for sure.

  16. Dr. Eric says:

    “We are not amused.”

  17. Roland de Chanson says:

    Saltatio liturgica nempe abominanda est. Non autem numeratur inter septem peccata capitalia. Gula contra ita numeratur.

    Liturgical dance is of course an abomination. Nevertheless, it is not one of the deadly sins. Gluttony is.

  18. gloriainexcelsis says:

    William Phelan, There are quite a number of us American mothers-grandmothers-great-grand-mothers (like me) who know firearms. I’ve added some, but have had my own Grandmother’s Winchester 22 squirrel rifle, hex barrel, since I was a mere child. I belong to the NRA and the Second Amendment Sisters. I have a daughter in Utah who is an avid deer hunter who knows how to dress the critters and serve up some prime venison. My mother was the first woman Warrant Officer in the California Guard and Reserve back in the ’60s. She sported a cut down to size (she was 5/’1/2″ tall and 98 pounds)Argentine Mauser. Yup! I, too, know the difference between a biretta and a beretta.

  19. lucy says:

    Now that’s what we want to see more of !

  20. An American Mother says:

    I’m a Southerner born and bred, that’s how! [ g ]

    My dad (a WWII vet) gave me my first firearm (a .22 rifle) when I was 7, and I’ve never looked back. My husband shot for his college rifle team and was 10 years in the Army Reserves, and all our married life we’ve been shooting competitively – smallbore rifle, skeet, combat pistol, sporting clays, and Cowboy Action. Our babies stayed in a playpen in the office at the local range. We’re also gunners for hunting tests for retrievers. We reload for everything except the shotguns. You’d go broke if you didn’t reload for Cowboy Action – six stages with 20 rounds of rifle & pistol each, plus 4-6 shotgun rounds . . . .

  21. An American Mother says:

    Hurrah, gloria! There are actually quite a lot of women out there shooting. There are a bunch shooting Cowboy Action, maybe because you get to dress up too.

    That is really cool that you have your grandmother’s squirrel gun. All I have is great-great grandfather’s cavalry sabre, and bragging rights on my grandfather’s 16 ga. Parker shotgun (I can use it if dad lets me, but it’s firmly in his possession, as it should be. Besides, they have snakes and feral hogs on their island, he might need it.)

  22. wanda says:

    “Gulp” Never mind Fathers, forget I said anything..gotta go now..bye..see ya later..have a nice daaayyy…(sound of rushing breeze follows out the door.)

    You go American Mother and gloriainexcelsis!

  23. Agnes says:

    The looks of the priest in the center is particularly rich. I can imagine a slow southern “and the fires of Hell shall not prevail against it!”

  24. TonyLayne says:

    Young Father Ximenez and his posse … no way would I leave Mass early with that crew staring at me!

  25. Melody says:

    Could someone photoshop out the date stamp so we can caption it better?

    Papa B16: “I’m sending in the liturgical special forces.”*

    *cut to this shot*

    *Kind of like the green beret, but with birettas.

  26. irishgirl says:

    Melody-that’s priceless!

    The looks on these Fathers’ faces would freeze any crazy ‘liturgist’ in their tracks!

  27. kallman says:

    the one in the middle is Fr Don Richardson from Sydney
    He was MC at world youth day and is a/liturgical director for
    Sydney Archdiocese, currently pursuing further studies in
    Chicago before returning to Sydney, sent to Chicago by
    Cardinal George Pell

  28. Father S. says:

    RE: Thomas S.

    The biretta can be worn at all times. It is not typically removed when one goes indoors. As for taking it off at the arrival of a woman, I think that there is not specific rule on this, though simple signs of courtesy are hard to overvalue.

  29. Nan says:

    William H. Phelan, it’s so much easier to cling to our guns and religion when we have guns. I’m not an expert like An American Mother or gloriainexcelsis, though have a rifle and three shotguns.

    irishgirl: I live in a world in which liturgists own birettas and also act as Archdiocesan safety* officer.

    *Keeping Mass safe from liturgical anomalies.

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