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A History Of The Mass And Its Ceremonies In The Eastern And Western Church -Rev John O'Brien A.M.

The Zucchetto, from the Italian zuccha, a gourd, is a small, closely-fitting skull-cap, shaped like a saucer, and of a red, violet, or black color, according to the rank of the wearer. Originally it was introduced to protect that part of the head which had been made bare by the so-called clerical tonsure, but now it is worn irrespective of the laws which regulated this ancient discipline.

When the Zucchetto may be worn.—As the Zucchetto is not exactly considered a cap, it has privileges which the berretta never enjoys, for it can be worn upon occasions when the use of the latter would be wholly forbidden. Permission is often granted to wear it in the very act of celebrating, during the less solemn portions of the Mass—i.e., from the beginning to the Preface, exclusive, and from the end of Communion to the completion of service. It must never be worn during the Canon, and permission to wear it at the times named must be had direct from the Pope. In case the celebrant should have permission to wear a wig he is never bound to remove it, for it ranks neither as a Berretta nor Zucchetto, but is rather esteemed as one’s own hair. Permission to wear it, however, is very rarely granted by the Holy See.

Color of the Zucchetto.—We have said that the color of the Zucchetto varies with the rank of the wearer. That worn by cardinals is always red; patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops wear a violet-colored one; for all the rest of the clergy the color is black. The privilege of wearing a violet Zucchetto was not enjoyed by bishops until June, 1867, when the concession was made by his Holiness Pope Pius IX. This concession, however, concerned but the Zucchetto, not the Berretta. The latter must be of the same color as that of a priest—viz., black (Martinucci, Manuale Cærem., v. 14).

The Zucchetto is indifferently known by the several names Calotte, Pileolus, Berrettino, and Submitrale. It is called Calotte in French, from its resemblance to a shell; Pileolus is the Latin diminutive of pileus, a Roman cap; Berrettino is a diminutive of Berretta; and it received its name Submitrale from the fact that it used to be generally worn under the bishop’s mitre. In common parlance it is always spoken of as the Calotte or Zucchetto.








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