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Cardinal (Catholicism)/Vesture and privileges

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Cardinal (Catholicism)
CardinalCoA PioM
Coat of Arms
The coat of arms of a cardinal are indicated by a red galero (wide-brimmed hat) with 15 tassels on each side (the motto and escutcheon are proper to the individual cardinal).
College and orders of cardinalate
Titular church
Title and reference style
Special types of cardinals
Cardinals in pectore or secret cardinals
Vesture and privileges
Cardinals in popular culture
Article discussion
Kardinaal III Danneels en Kasper

Cardinals Walter Kasper (left) and Godfried Danneels (right) wearing their choir dress: scarlet (red) cassock, white rochet trimmed with lace, scarlet mozetta, scarlet biretta (over the usual scarlet zucchetto), and pectoral cross on cord.

Cardinal Gavalin

George Cardinal Pell wearing the ordinary dress of a cardinal: black cassock with scarlet (red) piping and buttons, scarlet fascia (sash), pectoral cross on a chain, and a scarlet zucchetto.

Missione del Guaricano-cardinale Tarcisio Bertone

Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone in summer dress (white cassock with scarlet piping and buttons)

Vesture and privileges

When in choir dress, a Latin-rite cardinal wears scarlet garments — the blood-like red symbolizes a cardinal's willingness to die for his faith.[1][2] Excluding the rochet — which is always white — the scarlet garments include the cassock, mozzetta, and biretta (over the usual scarlet zucchetto). Until the 1460s, it was customary for cardinals to wear a violet or blue cape unless granted the privilege of wearing red when acting on papal business. His normal-wear simar is black but has scarlet piping and a scarlet fascia (sash-like belt). Occasionally, a cardinal wears a scarlet ferraiolo which is a cape worn over the shoulders, tied at the neck in a bow by narrow strips of cloth in the front, without any 'trim' or piping on it. (It is because of the scarlet color of cardinals' vesture that the bird of the same name has become known as such.)[3]

Eastern-rite cardinals continue to wear the normal dress appropriate to their rite, though some may line their cassocks with scarlet and wear scarlet fascias, or in some cases, wear Eastern-style cassocks entirely of scarlet (there is a unique photograph of Joseph Cardinal Slipyj of the Ukrainian Catholic Church wearing the traditional eastern bishop's habit and a cardinal's galero).

In previous times, at the consistory at which the pope named a new cardinal, he would bestow upon him a distinctive wide-brimmed hat called a galero. This custom has been discontinued, and the investiture now takes place with the scarlet biretta. In ecclesiastical heraldry, however, the scarlet galero is still displayed on the cardinal's coat of arms. Cardinals had the right to display the galero in their cathedral, and when a cardinal died, it would be suspended from the ceiling above his tomb. Some cardinals will still have a galero made, even though it is not officially part of their apparel.

To symbolize their bond with the papacy, the pope gives each newly appointed cardinal a gold ring, which is traditionally kissed by Catholics when greeting a cardinal (as with a bishop's episcopal or bishop's ring). The pope chooses the image on the outside: under Pope Benedict XVI it is a modern depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus, with Mary and John to each side. The ring includes the pope's coat of arms on the inside.

Cardinals have in canon law a "privilege of forum" (i.e., exemption from being judged by ecclesiastical tribunals of ordinary rank): only the pope is competent to judge them in matters subject to ecclesiastical jurisdiction (cases that refer to matters that are spiritual or linked with the spiritual, or with regard to infringement of ecclesiastical laws and whatever contains an element of sin, where culpability must be determined and the appropriate ecclesiastical penalty imposed). This does not exempt them from being judged for alleged violations of civil law. The pope either decides the case himself or delegates the decision to another tribunal, usually one of the tribunals or congregations of the Roman Curia. Absent such delegation, other ecclesiastical courts, even the Roman Rota, are absolutely incompetent to judge a case against a cardinal.[4]

  1. Pope Benedict ... He told them that the red signifies the dignity of their new office and that they must be ready "even to the point of spilling your blood for the increase of the Christian faith, for peace and harmony among the people of God, for freedom and the spread of the Holy Roman Catholic Church."
  2. Applause and tears in Basilica greet Pontiff (November 26, 2007) Belfast Telegraph. Accessed 2008-06-01. Quote: "In a ceremony televised across the world cardinal-elect Sean Brady knelt before Pope Benedict XVI and pledged his allegiance to the Church before receiving his special red birretta — a symbol of a cardinal's dignity and willingness to shed blood for the increase of the Christian faith."
  3. Instruction on the dress, titles and coat-of-arms of cardinals, bishops and lesser prelates.. L'Osservatore Romano, English ed.. 17 April 1969. pp. vol.4. Retrieved 2006-09-01. 
  4. Canon 1405 §1 and canon 1406 §2

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