This zucchetto, belonging to Pope Leo XIII, has a card attached to it with a wax seal signed by a member of the papal household verifying its authenticity.
A zucchetto is the skullcap worn by the pope and clergy. It comes from the Latin word, zucchini, and actually is in the shape of a squash. It covers the head of a priest or pope and comes in various colors depending on the rank of the individual wearing it.
All papal zucchettos are white. Varying colors denote the rank of other clergy.
Originally, when a man entered a religious community, the sign of his vow of obedience was a tonsure, that is, the shaving of a portion of his head. The zucchetto was used to keep his head warm over the shaved portion.
About Pope Leo XIII
As soon as he was elected to the papacy, Leo XIII worked to encourage understanding between the Church and the modern world. When he firmly re-asserted the scholastic doctrine that science and religion co-exist, he required the study of Thomas Aquinas and opened the Vatican Secret Archives to qualified researchers, among whom was the noted historian of the Papacy Ludwig von Pastor. He also re-founded the Vatican Observatory “so that everyone might see clearly that the Church and her Pastors are not opposed to true and solid science, whether human or divine, but that they embrace it, encourage it, and promote it with the fullest possible devotion.”
Leo XIII was the first Pope of whom a sound recording was made. The recording can be found on a compact disc of Alessandro Moreschi’s singing; a recording of his praying of the Ave Maria is available on the web. He was also the first Pope to be filmed on the motion picture camera. He was filmed by its inventor, W. K. Dickson, and blessed the camera while being filmed. Since he was born in 1810, he also became the earliest-born notable person who was filmed.
Pope Leo XIII (2 March 1810 — 20 July 1903), born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital (related to a count) family, was the head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death in 1903. He was the oldest pope (reigning until the age of 93), and had the third longest pontificate, behind Pius IX (his immediate predecessor) and John Paul II. He is the most recent pope to date to take the name “Leo” upon being elected as Pope.
Papal Artifacts honors the gift of his life to our Church.