A zucchetto of Pope Pius XI
A zucchetto is a small skullcap worn by clerics of the church. It consists of eight panels sewn together with a stem on top.
It was first adopted to keep the tonsured (shaved heads) of clergy warm in damp, cold churches but it has survived to the present day.
All ordained clergy are entitled to wear a zucchetto. The color denotes the wearer’s rank: the pope’s is white; cardinals’ are scarlet and bishops’ are a shade of purple. Priests’ are black. Deacons are also entitled to wear zucchettos.
The zucchetto comes from the Italian word, zucchetti, meaning a small gourd or zucchini and is indicative of its shape.
Bishops wear the zucchetto throughout the Mass, removing it at designated times.
The Collection has a zucchetto from every pope from as far back as Pius IX, who reigned from 1846 – 1878.