Closely related to the biretta…

For your Just Too Cool file.

I noticed this during the stomach turning broadcast of the President’s inauguration, but here is a post with a photo.  Check out First Things:

Kevin Walsh of the University of Richmond School of Law writes:

The twitterverse is alive with tweets about Justice Scalia’s headgear for today’s inauguration. At the risk of putting all the fun speculation to an end . . . The hat is a custom-made replica of the hat depicted in Holbein’s famous portrait of St. Thomas More. It was a gift from the St. Thomas More Society of Richmond, Virginia. We presented it to him in November 2010 as a memento of his participation in our 27th annual Red Mass and dinner.

Wearing the cap of a statesman who defended liberty of church and integrity of Christian conscience to the inauguration of a president whose policies have imperiled both: Make of it what you will.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. lydia says:

    Love it. I’m adding five Supreme Court justices to my prayer list for the next four years. I’ll pray for good health sound mind and desire to remain on the bench. Maybe an extra prayer for Roberts.

  2. I believe I saw one or two other Justices wearing similar hats. Perhaps the Catholic ones?

  3. Geoffrey says:

    Is this real? I saw this on Facebook earlier today and it looks photo-shopped. I hope it’s not, but…

  4. wmeyer says:

    May he be as faithful as St. Thomas More, then. As to the Supremes, I shall pray for all of them. For strength to those of faith, and for conversion for the rest.

  5. acardnal says:

    Hiermonk Gregory, I saw Justice Breyer wearing a different style cap. He’s Jewish as I recall.

    Let’s see, Saint Thomas More lost his head to King Henry VIII. Unlikely that would happen to Justice Scalia. But I do hope and pray that Justice Scalia does not end up on Obama’s drone targeting list!

  6. Darren says:

    May God bless Justice Scalia!

    May he hang on for four more years…

  7. La Sandia says:

    Dear Justices Scalia and Thomas:

    Don’t even THINK about retiring for the next 4 years. The golf course can wait.

    Yours Truly

  8. ReginaMarie says:

    Fantastic! We need more St. Thomas More types…many of them! Our eldest son now wants to make a replica of that hat for himself to wear to Friday’s March for Life. Justice Scalia’s son, Fr. Paul Scalia, is a solid priest whom I have had the privilege of hearing speak at a few Catholic homeschool conferences.

  9. AnAmericanMother says:

    The bonnet is very English – it has academic and guild/company connections.
    Three cheers for St. Thomas More AND Justice Scalia – I do hope he is sending a message here. May he have a long life!

  10. padredana says:

    What I want to know is where we can buy one.

  11. Faith says:

    I hate to throw a wrench in, but you can get these hats for $10 at a graduation robe store. They’re common for doctoral graduates–at least at Boston College. Curious, that the article says “custom made”?

  12. AnAmericanMother says:

    The academic tams are not the same as the “Tudor bonnet”, and the cap worn by St. Thomas More in his portrait is not the same as the academic “Tudor bonnet”. If you look at the tams in the academic catalogs, there is a difference.
    In any event, I think the idea of the Richmond crowd was to honor Justice Scalia by having it made for him – just like a homemade cake does more honor to its recipient than picking one up from the Publix bakery.

  13. AnAmericanMother says:

    . . . and just off the wall here . . .

    gracious heavens, Mr. Holbein was a portraitist! What skill! what insight!

  14. APX says:

    Maybe by custom made they meant specific for his head measurement. I recall my English prof wearing similar head gear at my first convocation, as she was the only one with a ph d.

  15. kat says:

    I heard about this this morning on our “conservative” talk-radio show hosts show. But he seemed to be laughing at it and saying Justice Scalia does eccentric things anyway, etc. But when I heard him say it was like St. Thomas More’s, it made me happy, because I immediately thought of the implications, and the awful way the Justices were treated by Pres Obama during his speech, when one of the Justices mouthed “That’s not true!”

  16. benedetta says:

    Yes, very cool. I just saw a few photos of the Supremes, some had nothing on their heads, Justice Kennedy wore a ski type winter hat, Justice Alito sported shades. But the one and only St Thomas More cap went with Justice Scalia. Bravo!!

  17. Stumbler but trying says:

    I loved that wonderful picture of Justice Scalia sporting St. Thomas More! What a wonderful, whimsical way to attend Obama’s 2nd term. I sensed a sense of humor in it all but some seriousness is to be considered as well.
    St. Thomas More, please pray for our nation. Amen!

  18. Gladiatrix says:

    The ‘custom made’ hat looks nothing like the one that Thomas More is wearing in the portrait; it is the wrong shape for one thing. They would have been better off going to see someone like Ede & Ravenscroft in London who could have made the hat based on their own records from the period.

    The portrait I think is the one that used to hang at Lincoln’s Inn before it was stolen (and recovered a few years ago), I am a member of the Inn and whilst you see More’s name in several parts of the Inn he wasn’t a nice man or even a particularly good Christian. The accounts of his treatment of his second wife, the appalling language he used to verbally abuse people who disagreed with him or didn’t share his beliefs, his conspiring to send William Tyndale to a truly awful death having persecuted him for years beforehand – even from within the Tower of London – all paint a very different picture from that usually referred to. I have to say I think Hilary Mantel’s deeply uncomplimentary portrayal of him in Wolf Hall is almost entirely deserved.

  19. Scott_Alt says:

    Wow, it’s not just the hat … Justice Scalia even looks like Thomas More. Warms my heart to see it. St. Thomas More, pray for us.

  20. AnAmericanMother says:


    Take it easy. Remember that history is written by the (temporal) victors, and that More was among the (temporally) vanquished. Also remember that the Tudor age was famous for beating an enemy with any crooked stick that came to hand (it’s instructive to read C.S. Lewis’s volume on 16th century English literature for a good look at the sort of verbal abuse and slander that was considered normal at the time).

    I doubt the Church would have approved his cause if all that were true.

  21. eulogos says:

    I appreciate your statement about the accuracy of the hat, and that there is actually a business which would have records of what they made during that time period. I don’t think such a possibility would be likely to occur to an American (unless a well traveled one) looking for a replica of More’s hat.

    However, I really wonder about your statement that More was “not a nice man or even a particularly good Christian.” I think the yardstick you are using to judge that is warped by the prejudices of the present age. You are being way too chronocentric! As for his teasing of his wife and some remarks he made about her, I think you have to look at what memes were prevalent at the time with regard to husbands and wives. Some of the things he said were no more than standard jokes, like the one from perhaps a few generations back “Take my wife…-please!” It just doesn’t do to be oversensitive about these things, and there is no indication that Alice More was particularly upset by his teasing. She was upset about the family’s predicament when he was in the Tower, but that was another matter.

    As for “the appalling language he used to verbally abuse people who disagreed with him or didn’t share his beliefs” a lot of this was standard rhetoric at the time. Have you read any Luther? Just look at the internet “Luther insult generator” and you will see that such language was not uncommon at the time.

    As for the language he used towards heretics, he meant every word of it. They were not just “people who didn’t agree with him.” As far as he was concerned the Protestant heretics were a threat to Church and Society, to the entire order of the world as he knew it. (As, in fact, they were.) And it was clear to him that they were a dire threat to the salvation of souls. Tyndale was spreading bibles in England with marginal notes full of tendentious interpretations undermining Catholic teaching. (I once found a Baptist study Bible with a glossary in the back illustrated by line drawings. “altar” was illustrated by a pile of stones with a fire burning on it. That sort of thing. And likely some things more speciously convincing.) He looked upon Tyndale something like the way we would look upon a spreader of vile pornography, but worse, much worse. He thought that they deserved to be burnt, and that they would go straight from the fires of Smithfield to the fires of Hell. When I read this in a biography of More I read recently, I was upset that More could not even begin to imagine that the conscientious Protestant who in his own mind was dying for the Gospel, might be welcomed by God as a martyr. To him, only malice and demonic influence could lead one away from Catholic truth, and to hold to what was contrary to the faith was identical with being depraved and reprobate. Even those of us here who are heavily into believing that important truths about God can be expressed in words, and that these truths and exactly how they are stated, really matters, I do not think can really enter into the worldview in which obstinate error in itself was sin and the result of sin, and both dangerous and damnable.

    It is just a mistake to judge More by the standards of the 20th/21st centuries. To say More was not a particularly good Christian is to slander him.He attended mass and office regularly. He was chaste despite much temptation. He wore a hair shirt most of his life and scourged himself . He ate the first of what was set before him without complaint, and then stopped. When there was a fire on his manor with loss of barns and livestock, he ordered that no serving man or woman be let go until they had found another position. He gave of his money freely to the poor. He gave of his time to teach and assist the young people in his house, not only his own children but those he was fostering. He educated his daughters as well as his sons, which was quite unusual for those days. And he was exacting in the performance of all the duties of his work, whether as lawyer or as sewer commissioner. (Yes, he was a sewer commissioner, and exchanged letters with learned doctors about sanitation and public health, and really tried to make some improvements-in those days when sewers ran openly along the streets.)

    So, you can say More was not “nice” by the standards of our time, but don’t say he wasn’t a good Christian. And he showed in the end where his treasure lay.

    Susan Peterson

  22. lmo1968 says:

    Those hats look nothing alike

  23. Desertfalcon says:


    I doff MY hat to you, in your charitable response to Gladiatrix. Well put.


  24. Matt R says:

    They look enough alike that my teacher- who is not Catholic and is fairly liberal- thought it looked familiar and thought of the Holbein portrait. Also, I think that perhaps the materials, the differences in size, and the vantage point (the portrait is from the side, but we see Justice Scalia from the front) make them look different.

  25. Margaret says:

    I’m reluctant to post the link directly, lest the comment land in spam, but check out Eye of the Tiber’s story on this…

  26. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    Oh. I thought this would be about handguns.

    Still, on the subject of the hat: it doesn’t look remotely English to me, and nothing like the ones I wear from time to time – from Ede & Ravenscroft, of course – and nothing like the one the saint is pictured wearing.

  27. catholicmidwest says:

    The hat is remotely similar, but not the same and it doesn’t fit the same. Scalia and More look nothing alike, probably because Scalia isn’t an Englishman with a big nose. Anthony Scalia is a very Italian name.

    I’m not reading too much into this. It’s a neat hat in cold weather and I think that’s probably the message. Especially after the Supreme Court decisions regarding the HHS mandate of last summer.

  28. LisaP. says:

    I guess he was on the short list anyway, but now he’ll be the first against the wall. . . . .

  29. LisaP. says:

    As resemblances go, in college when I would occasionally stop into a church for Mass, few times a year, the church must have been named for Thomas More because this portrait was on the wall. It really confused me, because all I could see was the actor Tom Conti. . .

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