Dress Up for the next Cardinal Prom


21st century modest Roman ritual attire

ROME (C.M. Paul) – Next week is the consistory for the newly appointed cardinals. Some of the paraphernalia (outfits) for the occasion are custom made to the tune of 30,000 (thirty thousand) plus US dollars.
Start with the Miter, a pointy hat the bishop wears whenever he does rituals. He has to have two kinds for a pontifical high mass, precious and plain gold.
Under the miter he wears a zucchetto, a little purple beanie.
Moving on we start with the bottom layer…. a purple cassock with a matching sash. Although bishops get to wear black cassocks with purple trim, the proper one for saying Mass is the purple one.
Around his neck he wears a pectoral cross with a special braided cord.
Over the cassock for mass he starts with an amice, a rectangular piece of linen, a remnant of a hood. Then comes the alb, the long white robe. The bishops gets to wear ones trimmed with lace at the cuffs and at the bottom half. The cincture is a braided rope worn around the waist, sort of like a belt.
The stole is worn around the neck and extends down below the waist. It matches the outer vestment in color and material. On the right arm he wears a maniple, a narrow strip of the same material as the stole. It looks like the napkin a waiter has over his arm.
Next comes the tunic, the outer vestment proper to the subdeacon. Over that he wears a dalmatic which is identical in basic style and cut but which has a distinguishing bar that differentiates it from the tunic. This is the outer vestment proper to the deacon. The bishop wears both because he has the “fullness of the holy orders.”
Finally the top garment is the chasuble, the vestment proper to the celebrant of the Mass.
The buskins are leggings or booties, kind of like the lining of arctic boots but made of silk. They used to keep his feet warm before churches were heated.
The final touches are ceremonial shoes and gloves. Bishops, archbishops and cardinals also wear a ring which is supposed to symbolize their wedded state to the diocese. Rings can be simple or ornate, with expensive stones.
Color coordination is everything. The chasuble, tunic, dalmatic, stole, maniple, buskins, shoes and gloves all have to be of the proper liturgical color and all obviously have to match. This means that the well-dressed bishop has to have at least four separate sets (white, red, green and purple) and if he is really high fashion, he’ll also have gold, rose and black.
The attendants.
A pontifical high mass requires a cast of people…sort of like a society wedding that requires a team of bridesmaids and groomsmen. The celebrant who is the bishop, is obvious. He is assisted by the deacon, sub-deacon, archpriest and two deacons of honor. They all wear vestments that match the celebrant.
Watch out for the best dressed cardinal in this consistory parade. He could have the following ready made items with a similar price tag. (If custom made, it will cost far more). All prices in Euro. Chasuble = 9000, Alb =  550, Amice = 40, Cassock = 550, Sash = 175, Socks = 20, Shoes = 800, Buskins = 320, Tunic = 500, Dalmatic = 500, Gloves = 1000, Zucchetto = 125, Biretta = 250, Pectoral Cross =  1800,  Cord for Cross = 250, Miter = 6000. Grand Total = 21,880.oo (Euro) =  30,011.oo (USD),  INR 1,333,618.oo
The outer threads, the chasubles, tunics, miters, gloves and shoes from an outfit in Rome known as Ars-Regia. Their web site is http://www.tridentinum.com. The other stuff, the socks, zucchetto, biretta, cassocks etc. probably come from Gammarelli, the most prestigious tailor in Rome. That’s the place where the pope gets his white cassock. The bling comes from a variety of places in Rome and elsewhere.
On a serious note
Although this virtual fashion show is a combination of humor and sarcasm, underneath that there is a very serious issue. At Vatican Council II, almost half a century ago, the bishops of the entire church agreed that it was time to simplify the titles, honors and dress of the hierarchy in a spirit of poverty. After the council ended this attitude was put into practice when the simplification was officially decreed.
The return to the pre-Vatican world, blessed by Benedict XVI, has brought back the extravagant and anachronistic vesture of a church long gone. There is a fundamental disconnect between Pope Benedict’s constant criticism of secularism and the ultra-expensive ecclesiastical materialism so obvious in the obsession with the lavish finery that has re-appeared on the scene.
When prophet Jonah preached repentance, the king of Nineveh abandoned his royal clothes and put on sack cloth and ashes as mark of penitence.
John the Baptist was dressed in camel skin and preached conversion in the wilderness on the Jordan river.Mohandas K Gandhi put away his European style dress and put on Indian villager’s loin cloth when he led satyagraha for India’s freedom.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta put away her religious habit and wore a sweeper woman’s home-spun cotton saree when she started her street ministry.
I know of several Bishops in India who have adopted simple style of dressing even during official and liturgical functions…
The dress makes a statement…
It all depends what statement one wishes to make!




Filed under Cardinals

3 responses to “Dress Up for the next Cardinal Prom

  1. C.M. Paul

    I know what happened to one bishop from India, who participated in the recent Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. He could not afford the black cassock with scarlet border… He had one borrowed for the occasion… The same bishop went to buy a ring… the shop keeper showed him gold; silver, with precious stones, etc… The Bishop told the shop keeper that he wanted a simple ring, less showy and cheap…
    The Roman shop keeper told the bishop “at first I talked to you as shopkeeper, now I am telling you as a Christian!”
    The shop keeper then, complimented the bishop for his choice of preferring simplicity and not going for the pomp and show as many other bishops coming from wealthy nations do.

  2. There is a limit to degrading a sacred institution like that of Cardinals. After all,they are the princes of the church of Jesus Christ. Do you want them to be dressed like the beggars of India,from where you come from? Benedict XVI is a serious theologian besides from being the pope! He very well knows his job. You need not tutor him. The Holy Spirit is there to do that job. You need only to OBEY him and you will get to heaven. What more do you want? Have you not studied the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”? Dante had seen you in hell. Michael Angelo had painted your portrait very clearly on the left side in the Last Judgement ! Pl.visit the Cistine chapel for further clarification. It is a real pity or good luck for you,that you did not live 400 or even 100 years before, for that matter. You should have been burnt at the stake or thrown into the Tyber,in full tide, with hands and feet tied !!!!These days it is a fashion not to believe the pope as infallible ! The Guy from Galilee lived and died 2000 years ago. Not sure at all ! They say He taught things not fit for human consumption at all ! Love,Forgiveness,Poverty,Service,Last place at table,Hypocrisy,White washed Sepulcres, Hunger for Power, Clothed in Silks and Velvet,Call no one Father ,etc. etc. all non -sense and purely utopian ideas !! The Church has evolved with science and technology ! Thanks to Constantine “the Great ” , the church is more sensible and practical today. Some stupid council called Vatican II or tried to spoil the soup but through the hard work of our clever Pastors of the sheep we are being saved from that disaster!!! We need more of such popes and cardinals to see us to the end of times !!!!!HOSANNA to the Vatican if not with Palm leaves ,then at least with FIG LEAVES !!!!!

  3. Shevlin Sebastian

    Very interesting and unusual story.

    One afterthought: quotes from an European and Asian Bishop would have given their perspectives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s