The zucchetto is worn by all ordained members of the Roman Catholic Church. The color of the zucchetto signifies the wearer's rank: the Pope wears a white zucchetto, cardinals wear red or scarlet, and bishops, territorial abbots, and territorial prelates wear purple. Priests must also wear a zucchetto when celebrating Mass or any other function of holy orders.
The zucchetto was originally a small cap made of steel or silver and worn by Jewish priests. It served as a sign of mourning until the 16th century, when it was adopted by Catholics to indicate the presence of a priest.
Although today's priests do not wear the traditional black cappa magna, they are still required to wear some form of head covering while serving Mass or conducting any other function of their office. The requirement applies only to male priests; female priests are free to wear whatever they like during church services.
There are two types of zucchettos in use today: the classic metal hat and the modern plastic one. Although both were approved by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, only the metal zucchetto is actually used by priests in Rome today. The plastic one is preferred by many in the Vatican because it is more durable and does not cost as much to replace as the metal version if lost or damaged.
All ordained members of the Latin Church of the Catholic Church are permitted to wear the black zucchetto, which is worn with either the cassock or liturgical vestments (until raised to a higher status). Under the mitre or biretta, the zucchetto is always worn. The zucchetto is a small velvet skullcap used by Jewish priests.
Zucchettos were introduced into the Western church in the 11th century by Pope Pascal II. They were originally designed for use by abbots and priors, but over time they became customary for all clergy to wear. Although there is no biblical precedent for this, many Christian churches have adopted this practice.
In Judaism, a zucchetto is a small leather hat worn by a rabbi during prayer services and important ceremonies. It covers the head and ears except for a hole for the mouth. Originally, these hats were colored red, but now white is also used.
The word "zucchetto" comes from Latin, meaning little cap. It was first used to describe the small leather hat worn by Jewish priests. Today, it is commonly used by bishops, priests, and deacons to refer to their clerical hats.
Priests and deacons are clothed in a black zucchetto. Priests sent to the Vatican are expected to always wear their black zucchetto. The brown zucchetto worn by ordained Franciscan friars is the one exception to the color prohibition.
Black was the traditional color for priests. In modern times, other colors are also used.
The word "zucchetto" comes from Latin and means "little cap." It refers to the small black cap Catholic priests are required to wear. Before the 19th century, Catholic priests were also required to wear white robes during church services and when presiding over courts. However, since then they have only been required to wear black outside churches and religious institutions.
In addition to the black zucchetto, Catholic priests also wear a white collar, either under their clothes or as a visible part of their attire. They may also wear other items of clothing that indicate their status as priests. For example, a priest's shoes should be closed and tied in a knot instead of loafers. Also, his hands should be covered with short sleeves and he should wear a stethoscope or similar instrument around his neck.
Although not mandatory, most Catholic priests do wear a zucchetto during their daily prayers. This helps them identify themselves as members of the clergy and show respect toward others.
To complement his white cassock, the pope usually wears a white zucchetto. The most frequent Anglican design is akin to the Catholic zucchetto or, more often, the Jewish yarmulke. Almost all priests in the Syriac Orthodox church wear a seven-panel zucchetto called a phiro. In addition, some bishops and abbots wear a more elaborate zucchetto containing twelve panels.
The Pope was originally required by the Church to wear a skullcap at Mass but this rule was abolished in 1969 by Paul VI. He still wears a white hat when he celebrates Mass or gives an audience with members of the clergy or the public. The Pope also wears a yarmulke while celebrating Torah readings at synagogue services or when he visits a Jewish community.
In October 2011, Pope Benedict XVI became the first Roman Pontiff to visit Israel. During his trip, he met with Israeli leaders and Christians from around the world via live webcasts of his speeches. He also visited Jerusalem's Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christians believe Jesus died, was buried and rose again from the dead.
In December 2011, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would be resigning as head of the Catholic Church later that month after nearly six years as pope. His resignation will take effect on February 28, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. Rome time.
Worn by the clergy as early as the fifth century, it eventually became the normal day dress for prelates and priests, with color indicating hierarchical rank: bishops, archbishops, and other prelates wore purple; cardinals, red; the pope, white; and ordinary clergy, black.
These colors are also used in ceremonial clothing to denote a priest's degree or position: deacons wear white (except at Mass), priests brown, bishops purple, archbishops red, and cardinals scarlet.
In modern usage, these colors are generally retained for ceremonial purposes only, although in some Latin churches priests may still be required to wear black during daily services. At Rome's St. Peter's Basilica, for example, priests must wear one of four specified colors: violet, orange, green, or blue. At Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, this rule applies only to men outside the Vatican City State.
During the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, various attempts were made to abolish the practice of requiring priests to wear specific colors. The last pope to issue such a decree was Pius X in 1905. Since then, no new rules have been issued by any pope regarding the dress of priests.
However, there is one exception.