25 November 2010


As we know, the 'wings' on the modern biretta are a formalisation of the way one bunched up the material between ones fingers in donning and doffing the rather floppier medieval clerical hat. That is why one has a 'wing' towards the right and not the left; one drew up the material towards the right, drawing it away from the left, so as to get a good grip.

On the photographs from the recent consistory, one can see that the Bishop of Rome placed the birettas on the heads of his new cardinal presbyters in such a way that the 'wingless' corner was to the back. Is this (which would be totally logical) because, if the biretta were still in the old floppy state, the one bestowing it would bunch the material between his fingers in bestowing the hat ... so that what is normally the grippable 'wing on the right' becomes, temporarily in the act of bestowal, the grippable 'wing at the front'?

Or did Good Marini just hand them to him the wrong way round?

We should be told.


Enrico Dante said...

Well, this happened at the last consistory too.

I did notice some of the Cardinals We Like doffing their new hats to the Sovereign Pontiff and then putting them back on the right way round. Perhaps it's a subtle message to them to go and sort things out.

A little digging has these photos:

The previous consistory (2007):

(it's the wrong way round)

The one before that (2006):

(the right way round)

and one some time before that:


which suggest that something is afoot. Surely it isn't the sort of thing that two vestment-aware MCs and a Pope with a liturgical eye would get wrong?

Little Black Sambo said...

Bishop Brennan (Father Ted) wore his biretta symmetrically.

Rubricarius said...

One can see a photograph of the future John Paul II receiving his red biretta from Paul VI on this site (scroll down just a little).

Paul VI positioned the biretta in the normal fashion for the wearer.

AP said...

At least in this one thing, Marini I apparently knew the tradition better than Marini II

Rubricarius said...


As Adrian Fortescue might have said "Like the stars, one Marini differth, and very considerably, from another Marini in glory."

Little Black Sambo,

Bishop Brennan was always magnificently dressed (apart from his 'hat' as Mrs. Doyle termed it) refusing to wear the modern habitus pianus and wearing a violet choir cassock - alas without train. Considering how bishops dress in Ireland one wonders what the scriptwriters inspiration was for Bishop Brennan.