ASK FATHER: Biretta woes! Wherein Fr. Z offers wisdom.

And now for something really important.

Pompoms on birettas.

From a seminarian in these USA …


Any suggestions as to where to purchase a good biretta? It seems most of offerings from American companies have the black pom which falls totally flat. I’d appreciate any suggestions.

O tempora! O mores! What are they teaching in seminaries these days?

An "academic" biretta trimmed in green for Canon Law. Note that both strings are still in place. If the guy is smart, he'll cut just the top string, unless he wants to pom to flatten out.

The trick to the pom (that is, to have it flare out in a ball instead of going flat) is to cut only the top string of the two strings. Poms always arrive with two strings around the pom. Those which have “fallen flat” can be revived by holding the hat upside down, thus hanging the pom upside down, smoothing it down and getting it nice and even and then winding a black string or thread around and around the pom’s fibers tightly about 3/4″ to 1″ from its (inverted) based. It helps to have two people for this project, but one can do it.

Otherwise, contact John Hastreiter at Leaflet Missal Company in St. Paul, MN.

BTW… the Roman biretta usually doesn’t have a pompom on it. Notice that a Cardinal’s biretta doesn’t have one: they are Roman clergy. The pom is, I think, a French thing.

And pay attention to your birettiquette!

And your liturgical Beretta-quette as well.

PS: I still want a one of those groovy Spanish birettas, with the five horns.  I don’t know when I would ever use it, but I want one anyway.

Or there’s this one!   Whew!

It looks like something out of Star Trek but, you’ve gotta admit… that‘s a hat!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Want to see some “interesting” birettas? Take a look at this blog :

  2. M. K. says:

    Does anyone have tips on where one can buy a biretta WITHOUT a pompom? I am looking for one (I’m currently a transitional deacon, soon to be a priest) and I belong to a community that has traditionally worn the biretta without the pompom. All of the online suppliers I’ve come across only offer birettas with pompom, and I’m curious whether anyone could help me find a place that sells them without.

  3. CradleRevert says:

    M.K. ,

    Could you simply buy one with a pompom and then remove it, or would leave a noticeable scar on the peak of the biretta?

  4. M. K. says:


    Yes, I’m concerned that it might leave a “scar” or otherwise not look right. As an addendum to my question, I’d also be interested in hearing if anyone knows of people who custom-make birettas; I’d be happy to buy from a small-scale supplier instead of a large company, especially if said supplier can custom-make one without the pompom.

  5. CradleRevert says:


    Like Father mentioned above, I would give Leaflet Missal here in the twin cities a call. I don’t know that they custom make birettas, but I believe that they are pretty knowledgeable about these sorts of things and they might be able to direct you to the right people.

  6. SpesUnica says:

    House of Hansen in Chicago sold me one sans pom. I just called and asked. There is a small hole at the peak where the pom would attach, but I needed that to a attach a tassle anyway.

  7. Removing the pom takes about 5 seconds and it leaves no trace.

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    Pomless birettas! I may be the first person in history to type those two words together. I feel so special :)

    Really, I think Birettas should be like Oddjob’s bolo hat from the Bond movie, if you catch my drift. Just for defensive purposes, mind you.

    The Chicken

  9. The Masked Chicken says:

    Bolo hat = Bowler hat. They are sold under both names.

    The Chicken

  10. TheAcolyte says:

    Here’s some birette-quette, especially in regards to funerals:

  11. Uxixu says:

    I like the Spanish biretta. That bottom one definitely belongs on the Canons of the Cathedral Chapter of Our Lady of Arcturus.

  12. C. M. Almy (yes, I know they episcopalian) makes birettas to order. They can make them in any color, 3 or 4 fins, with or without pom, braid in any color. And their poms are fluffy and do not fall over, need no string to tie them up. My S.T.M. biretta and that of the other S.T.M. in my province were done by Almy and are fine. The only biretta Dominicans ever wear, by the way, is the academic kind, and it is never used in liturgy.

  13. The video “We are catholic” wich mentionned “we love life… a lot” “we are contemplative” “we are blessed” “we are extraordinary” and so on, disappered from youtube a few hours ago.
    Had anyone downloaded it, in order to put it back on the internet ?
    Thank You !

  14. Stephen McMullen says:

    Hi. And I notice a lot of priests, well, I think, anyway, have birettas that are not fitted properly.
    The best ones I have seen fit over the crown of the head instead of sitting on top. Priests in the 50s and 60s were particularly guilty of that.

  15. In fact it has been removed from all links on youtube, more than 10 different links of the same video.
    But you can find it there:
    For those who know how to download it with video downloader, do it, it’s beatiful !

  16. Father G says:

    A large variety of birettas as well as other headwear can be seen at The Philippi Collection blog:

  17. Andkaras says:

    I liked the Cami biretta on James M s link for Fr Z.

Comments are closed.