Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Red Birettas, Part 3


The Cardinal's Red Birettas are worn during processions and when they are seated, for example, when attending a meeting for the purposes of voting for the next Pope. While it is a Roman custom that there should be no tassel, the French, Spanish and Germans normally have hats with four peaks, instead of the traditional three worn by others.

The Red Birettas worn by today's Cardinals have replaced the old style Red Galeros. A broad brimmed hat that looked like what we would call a sombrero today.

There is a tale told of a very old custom concerning the Red Galeros, and the Cardinal to which it belonged. When a Cardinal would die, his hat was hung from the ceiling of his church or cathedral. The story claims that when his Red Galeros finally disintegrated and fell from the ceiling, the Cardinal's soul would be released from Purgatory. Perhaps this legend may have had it's beginnings in hanging the hat as a reminder to the parishioners, to continue to pray for their Cardinal.

Up until a few years ago, there were four "Red Hats" still hanging from the ceiling of New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral. They had belonged to the first four New York Cardinals, John McCloskey, John Murphy Farley, Patrick Joseph Hayes, and Francis C. Spellman. Cardinal John McCloskey became the first American Cardinal in 1875.
At the time of Pope John Paul II's death there were a total of 183 known Cardinals, and possibly one Secret Cardinal.� A Secret Cardinal's name is not revealed immediately, because to do so might put his life in danger. It has been rumored that there may be a Secret Cardinal in China, Russia, or even Poland.

Originally named as Secret Cardinals in 1998, but known today are Cardinal Marian Jaworski of Lviv, Ukraine and Cardinal Janis Pujats of Riga, Latvia. They will be among the Cardinals in the Conclave on April 18th.

Only Cardinals under the age of 80 will be allowed to vote for the next Pope. Exclusive of a possible Secret Cardinal, there are currently 117 Cardinals who are eligible to vote.

Cardinal Jaime Lachica Sin of Manila, Philippines, has been reported to be too ill to travel to Rome for the conclave, however, he will still be able to vote.
To be continued . . .

Written by BonnieBlueFlag


At 12:02 AM, Blogger Aussiegirl said...

This is proving to be a very interesting series of articles, Bonnie. Your description of the old style Red Galeros of course reminds me of Monty Python's Inquisition sketch.

At 12:26 AM, Blogger Aussiegirl said...

BonnieB -- I hope my comment didn't strike anyone or you as irreverent -- but I must admit that when I was trying to picture what these Red Galeros looked like, the image of the Pythoners and their Inquisition sketch just leaped to mind. It certainly is vivid. I think I like the Birettas better - they look more princely.


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