A Galero Given to Pius XII Upon His Appointment as Cardinal in 1929
The galero is the official red hat. You often hear of someone being named cardinal and the Pope gives him the red hat. He actually places it on his head. Now, instead of the galero, they are given the biretta, a much simpler headdress. But up until at least Pius XII, in fact until 1969, popes continued the practice of giving the galero. And so it’s very unique looking and a much larger hat than the biretta.
Originally the reason these hats looked so odd and so large was because popes wanted to be able to identify their cardinals in a crowd. So they made them wear hats like this so they would easily stand out. And so that’s part of the history of how they got to be such an odd shape. The galero was designed to wear to significant ecclesial events because it identified them as cardinals. Obviously it was a very impractical headdress–you can imagine it falling off with the wind blowing!
You often see this hat in the top of a cathedral that is the cardinal’s ‘See’. They are placed in nearly all cathedrals that have had cardinals. Upon their deaths, they are hung in the rafters–in some cathedrals ten of them might be lined up, signifying there have been ten cardinals in a particular diocese.
However, if you are elected Pope, that does not happen, because you don’t die as cardinal. So galeros available to purchase are only from a pope, because otherwise they’d be hung in rafters. And so, this is the galero that Pope Pius XI place on the head of Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, on December 16, 1929. So this is quite a significant item since it’s associated with such a great pope, a pope during the most tumultuous time of the 20th century. To have this item associated with his cardinalate, which is the reason he then became Pope, makes it such a great item!
Additional Information about the Galero
This galero is in very good condition and in its original box containing the seal of the company that made these hats: Tanfani & Bertarelli. It is the only one Father Kunst has ever seen on the market. A calling card belonging to Eugenio Pacelli inside the box identifies the hat as his galero.
Pope Pius XI raised Eugenio Pacelli (the future Pius XII) to the cardinalate in 1929. In February of 1930 Pius XI, who held him in great esteem, appointed him Cardinal Secretary of State.
The galero is a large, broad-brimmed tasseled hat worn originally by clergy but eventually limited to cardinals. This style of hat originated in 1245 when Pope Innocent IV wanted his cardinals to be recognized in the lengthy processions at the First Council of Lyons. In the past, the pope placed the scarlet galero on the new cardinal’s head during the consistory. This practice gave rise to the phrase, receiving the red hat.
In 1969 a decree of the Second Vatican Council ended the use of the galero. Presently, the scarlet zucchetto and biretta is placed over the heads of cardinals in consistory.
The galero is in the coat of arms of all bishops and cardinals. Normally a galero is hung from the rafters or ceiling of a cardinal’s church or cathedral. However when a cardinal is made pope there is no particular church with which he is associated.
This galero is an extremely rare addition to the Papal Artifacts Collection.
Items belonging to or associated with Pope Pius XII are featured on Papal History/Pius XII. Biographical information, a youTube, his coat of arms and burial site in St. Peter’s Basilica are also there.
Two additional commentaries about Pope Pius XII are found on Ask the Expert.
Papal Artifacts honors Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli on the anniversary of his appointment as Secretary of State and is grateful for the gift of his life to our Church.
Here is a link to the many artifacts belonging to or associated with Pope Pius XII:
Some Information about Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, the Future Pope Pius XII:
Eugenio Pacelli was born in Rome on March 2nd, 1876 to an old aristocratic Roman family in service to the Vatican for generations. His grandfather, father and brother all held important positions. Most notably, his brother Francesco, a canon lawyer, helped to negotiate the 1929 Lateran Treaty. Eugenio studied at the Gregorian University, the Capranica College Seminary and the St. Apollinare Institue. He studied philosophy at the University of Rome at Sapienza. In 1899 at twenty-three years of age, he received degrees in theology and in civil and canon law. That same year he was ordained a priest and began a career in the papal service distinguishing himself in the office of the Secretary of State. He was Cardinal Gasparri’s assistant in codifying canon law between 1904 and 1916. During this period he also represented the Vatican at numerous international events such as the Eucharistic Congress in London in 1908, and the coronation of King George V in 1911. It was during this time that his diplomatic capabilities were remarked upon. He taught international law at the Academy of Nobles Ecclesiastics and was an excellent linguist. Pacelli spoke Latin, Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Slovak and Hungarian. Towards the end of his life he also attempted Arabic. Known for his great piety, he was said to possess a devastating combination of saintliness and charm.
During the pontificate of Benedict XV, Pacelli worked closely with him attempting to prevent Italy’s involvement in the First World War. He traveled to Vienna to attempt to persuade the Austrian government to be more understanding of Italy’s position. In 1917, Benedict XV appointed him nuncio to Munich, then archbishop of Sardes and, in 1920, nuncio to the new German republic. Between 1934 and 1936, he visited Argentina and was the first pope to visit the United States. Pacelli was involved in the preparation of the concordats with European countries after the First World War. In 1933, with the help of the now Cardinal Pacelli who had succeeded Cardinal Gasparri as Secretary of State in 1930, Pius XI signed a concordat with Hitler’s government. The concordat with the Reichstag was controversial at the time, but the Pope believed he could better protect the Catholic Church and her priests with a legal document. The government’s prestige was temporarily enhanced by this concordat, which served to curb Catholic opposition to the Reichstag government. Between 1933 and 1936, oppression of the Church steadily increased and with Cardinal Pacelli’s assistance, Pius XI sent thirty-four notes of protest to the Nazi government followed by his famous encyclical, Mit brennender Sorge in 1937, which denounced the repeated violations of the concordat and Nazism as fundamentally anti -Christian.
Cardinal Pacelli’s diplomatic style was in contrast to that of Pius XI’s who fully intended to publish his encyclical denouncing the Nazi government’s atrocities. When Pius XI died, Cardinal Pacelli decided against it. Unitus humani generis, denounced anti-Semitism. While his reasons are not clear as to why he chose not to publish it, it is clear that both men demonstrated a sincerity of intention in the language they used. Neither was successful when dealing with a government involved in the genocide of an entire race and an attempt to conquer the world.
Please visit Papal History/Pius XII for further biographical information about this great Pope. Here is a link: