Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Cardinals' biretta

The first post of this series dealt with the creation of new Cardinals in the Secret Consistory, and with delivery of the biglietto.

We shall see now the following step: the imposition of the biretta.

This ceremony hasn't a very solemn character, and may take place either in a room of the Apostolic Palace, or in the Consistorial Hall.

In the afternoon of the day before the day chosen for the Public Consistory, the new Cardinals -not wearing the cappa, but the mantelletta, because this ceremony doesn't take place during a proper Consistory- reach the apartments of the Secretary of State and, leaded by the same Eminentissimo and escorted by their private court and by the Swiss Guards, go to the Cappella Matilde where they wait for the formal notice to go up to the hall where the ceremony is about to take place.

(Below: Joseph Card. Ritter in Rome entourned by his private court: a gentleman carrying the biretta, the secretary, and the caudatario. The dean of the Cardinal's household and the aiutante di camera are missing in this picture)

(Picture below: final biretta test for Michael Card. Brown, Master General of the Order of the Preachers before the ceremony for the imposition)

The Sovereign Pontiff, escorted by his Noble Secret Antechamber, wearing the mozzetta and the red Papal stole -but not the falda- reaches the hall were the ceremony will take place and sits on the throne. The new Cardinals are then allowed to step in.

One by one, after the usual triple genuflection, they kneel in front of the throne and kiss the Pope's foot.

The Pontiff clothes them with the red mozzetta (Cardinals in Rome wore the mozzetta on the top of the mantelletta) and the red wool (not the silk) biretta; then they stand up, take off the biretta, kiss the Pope's hand and receive his embrace.

(Below: Giuseppe Card. Siri receives the red biretta from Pope Pius XII's hands)

After the imposition of the birettas, the first of the appointed Cardinals addresses to His Holiness a short discourse of thankgiving.

The Pontiff answers to it with a short allocution, and gives his Apostolical Blessing. Then he departs.

After the ceremony, one of the Papal Masters of Ceremony gives the red silk zucchetto to each of the new Cardinals.

If the new Cardinal is an Apostolic Nuncio to a Catholic country (in most recent times: Italy, France, Spain and Portugal), things -until 1969- worked differently.

Only in this case - here a small correction to my previous post is in order- the red silk calotte, or zucchetto, is carried to the newly appointed Cardinal by a noble guard of His Holiness.

(Below: Count Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano, noble guard of His Holiness, carries the red silk zucchetto to the newly-appointed Paolo Card. Marella, Apostolic Nuncio to France)

The zucchetto is kept in a special red morocco leather case with the coat of arms of the Pope.

It is then a privilege of the Head of the State to impose the biretta on the head of the new Cardinal.

(Below: French President Vincent Auriol imposes the biretta on Angelo Giuseppe Card. Roncalli's head)

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