Zucchetto Belonging to Pope Benedict XVI
Zucchetto Belonging to Pope Benedict XVIZucchetto Belonging to Pope Benedict XVI

The story of acquiring Pope Benedict’s zucchetto is one of Father Kunst’s favorites. In 2006 when Benedict was a fairly new pope, Father Kunst worked with one of the seminarians from his diocese who was studying in Rome. Father bought a zucchetto at Gamarelli’s, the papal clothing maker in Rome. The seminarian brought it to the office of Archbishop Harvey, head of the papal household and formerly of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The seminarian brought a note from Father Kunst that talked about his collection. He also gave him the booklet, The Vatican Comes to Duluth, 2004. (This was an exhibit held in Duluth, Minnesota, highlighting many of the items on the web site.) His hope was that Archbishop Harvey would keep the zucchetto he bought in exchange for one of Pope Benedict’s.

Six months later the seminarian received an early morning phone call from the archbishop saying the zucchetto was ready.

Archbishop Harvey included a card that attested to the fact Pope Benedict had indeed worn the zucchetto.

A very interesting story, indeed.

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 – 187 .