The Biretta is a square cap with three ridges or peaks on its upper surface. It is worn by clerics from cardinals to seminarians. The use of such a cap is prescribed by the rubrics both at solemn Mass and in other ecclesiastical functions. At first the birettum was a kind of skull-cap with a small tuft, but it developed into a soft round cap easily indented by the fingers in putting it on and off, and it acquired in this way the rudimentary outline of its present three peaks. The Bishop's biretta is a hard square cap. For a bishop, it is purple in color with a pom of the same color as the biretta. A bishop on the inside of a church uses the biretta, when he is not in vestments. Priests' birettas are black with a pom, while Seminarians and Deacons' are black with no pom. In addition, Cardinals have red birettas with no pom.
The priest (Bishop, Cardinal or Seminarian) all wear the Biretta outside of Mass. In the extraordinary form of the Mass the priest is required to wear a biretta which he wears processing up to the altar, during the homily and for the procession out of Mass. The priest also wears the biretta outside of the church in the public eye as another piece to his "clerical garb."
The different times that clergy wear their birettas is due to the importance of what is taking place in front of them (and for priests) in them. At Mass the priest acts in persona christi, so it is only fitting that the priest "opens up himself" symbolically through the removal of the biretta. In this action he loses himself and his humanity and Christ takes over as the priest-victim. Then when Mass is over the priest enters back into his second identity as the priest-human which is symbolically shown in the use of the biretta.
The mitre is a kind of folding-cap that consists of two like parts, each stiffened by a lining and rising to a peak; these are sewn together on the sides, but are united above by a piece of material that can fold together. Two "lappets" trimmed on the ends with fringe hang down from the back. The mitre is, theoretically, always supposed to be white.
The official "Cæremoniale Romanum" distinguishes three kinds of mitres: the mitra pretiosa, auriphrygiata, and simplex. The first two differ from each other only in the greater or less richness of the ornamentation; the mitra simplex, or simple mitre, is one of white silk or white linen entirely without ornament. The fringe on the lappets at the back should be red. The bishop must wear the mitra pretiosa on those days on which the hymn Te Deum is used in the Office, the mitre auriphrygiata in the seasons of Advent and Lent, on fast days and during penitential processions, the mitra simplex on Good Fridays, at funerals, and at the blessing of the candles on Candlemas-day.
The zucchetto (Italian for "small gourd"), is a small skullcap worn by clerics of the Roman Catholic Church. It was first adopted for practical reasons — to keep the clergy's tonsured heads warm in cold, damp churches — and has survived as a traditional item of dress. It consists of eight panels sewn together, with a stem at the top. Its name may derive from its resemblance to half of a pumpkin, or from the fact that it covers a larger "pumpkin" (i.e., the head). Its appearance is almost identical to the Jewish Kippah, though its significance is quite different.
All ordained members of the Roman Catholic Church are entitled to wear the zucchetto.
As with much ecclesiastical apparel, the colour of the zucchetto denotes the wearer's rank: the Pope's zucchetto is white, those worn by cardinals are red or scarlet, and those of bishops, territoria abbots and territorial prelates are purple. Priests and deacons wear a black zucchetto although the use of the zucchetto by priests in actual practice is extremely rare aside from abbots, and the custom is even rarer among deacons. A black zucchetto with red piping was formerly the mark of a canon, but this is no longer authorized. A brown zucchetto-like garment and similar black skullcap is sometimes worn by Franciscan friars and Benedictine or Trappist monks respectively, but this is usually a more substantial cap used for actual head-warming rather than as a ceremonial accoutrement.
All clerics who hold the episcopal character (that is to say, bishops — whether the Pope, cardinals, titular bishops or diocesan bishops) wear the zucchetto throughout most of the Mass, removing it at the commencement of the Canon and replacing it at the conclusion of the Communion. A short stand placed on the altar (usually made of brass or wood and known as a funghellino) is used in some churches to hold the zuchetto during that part of the Mass. No other people are permitted to wear the zucchetto at Mass. Also, the zucchetto continues to be worn while the mitre is being worn; it is placed inside it (a mitre is bottomless, so the zuchetto sits on the head while the mitre is around it).
The late Pope John Paul II often gave guests the zucchetto he was wearing as a keepsake if presented with a new one as a gift. Other recent popes have also held the same practice. If visiting the pope, one may wish to speak with his secretary beforehand about the practice, and confirm that the new zucchetto is the correct size and is otherwise appropriate.
(I believe I saw Fr. Grondz wearing one last Sunday into church...)
The Cappello Romano
This is a picture of my dad and Fr. Stanley (wearing a saturno he bought on their trip to Rome.)
A cappello romano (literally Roman hat) or saturno (because of the similarity to the ringed planet Saturn) is a hat with a wide, circular brim and a rounded rim worn outdoors in some countries by Catholic clergy. It is made of either beaver fur or felt, and lined in white silk. Unlike many other articles of ecclesiastical attire, it serves no ceremonial purpose, being primarily a practical item. (The galero is a ceremonial wide brim hat no longer worn.) The cappello romano is not used in liturgical services. Since the general abandonment of the cassock as street dress, it is very uncommon.
There are some, mostly minor, differences in the designs of cappelli, depending on the rank of the wearer. The pope wears a red cappello with gold cords. Cardinals formerly also had the privilege of wearing a red cappello, but this rule was overturned by Paul VI, and now Cardinals' cappelli are black, as are those of all other clerics. A cardinal may have a cappello with red and gold cords with scarlet lining. A bishop's may have green and gold cords with violet lining. A priest may substitute black lining for his. Cappelli for deacons and seminarians have no distinguishing items.
And finally, the Papal Crown- Although few wear this one ;)
Papal tiaras were worn by the popes of Rome from Pope Clement V (1314) to Pope Paul VI, who was crowned in 1963. Pope Paul VI abandoned the use of his own tiara after the Second Vatican Council, symbolically laying it on the altar of St. Peter's Basilica, and donating its value to the poor. However, his 1975 Apostolic Constitution Romano Pontifici Eligendo on the manner of electing the Pope, still envisaged that his successors would be crowned.
However his immediate successor, Pope John Paul I, decided against a coronation, replacing it with a ceremony of what was called "Inauguration of the Supreme Pontificate"; and after John Paul I's sudden death, Pope John Paul II told the congregation at his Inauguration:
"The last Pope to be crowned was Paul VI in 1963, but after the solemn coronation ceremony he never used the tiara again and left his Successors free to decide in this regard. Pope John Paul I, whose memory is so vivid in our hearts, did not wish to have the tiara; nor does his Successor wish it today. This is not the time to return to a ceremony and an object considered, wrongly, to be a symbol of the temporal power of the Popes. Our time calls us, urges us, obliges us to gaze on the Lord and immerse ourselves in humble and devout meditation on the mystery of the supreme power of Christ himself."
Though not currently worn as part of papal regalia, the continuing symbolism of the papal tiara is reflected in its use on the flag and coats of arms of the Holy See and the Vatican. Until the reign of Benedict XVI the tiara was also the ornament surmounting a Pope's personal coat of arms, as a tasselled hat surmounted those of other prelates. In a break with tradition, Pope Benedict XVI's personal coat of arms has replaced the tiara with a mitre. This particular mitre contains three levels reminiscent of the three tiers on the papal tiara. However, in the coat of arms of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State Pope Benedict XVI decided to keep the tiara, not a mitre.