These are the “Cardinal Zucchettos” in the Papal Artifacts’ Collection
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Pope John Paul I
This zucchetto is one of the most treasured items in the Collection. It was worn within months of his election.
With this acquisition the Collection now has a zucchetto from every Pope since Blessed Pope Pius IX.
Albino Luciani was created cardinal on March 5, 1973, by Pope St. Paul VI.
Cardinal James Gibbons
In 1877 James Gibbons became archbishop of Baltimore, the oldest and most prestigious archdiocese in the United States (which included Washington, D.C.). In 1886 he was created a cardinal, the second American to receive the red zuchetto. From that time until his death in 1921, he was the unofficial leader of the Church in the United States, honored and extolled by all Americans.
In 1917 Theodore Roosevelt wrote to him, Taking your life as a whole, I think you now occupy the position of being the most respected, and venerated, and useful citizen of our country.
His zuchetto is a very valued asset to the Collection.
James Gibbons was created cardinal June 7, 1886, by Pope Leo XIII.
Pope St. John Paul II
This zucchetto is actually a very historically significant item. Although it is not absolutely certain, it is very likely that this is the zucchetto given to Cardinal Wojtyla by Pope Paul VI. The reason this is plausible is because on the inside there is a small tag that says, “K J Wojtyla, 1967, San Cesareo in Palatio”. That is the name of the church that he was given as his titular church upon his elevation. Because more than one man is elevated to the cardinalate at a time and because they are of different sizes, it is important to specify which zucchetto belongs to which cardinal. Therefore tags are put inside to assure each receives the correct hat.
This is a very rare item owned by a recently canonized pope, and it is very likely the one given to him by Pope Paul VI.
It’s so fascinating to think that Karol Wojtyla wore this on the day that he was made a cardinal. And the way we know this to be true is because of that tag on the inside of the hat.
Also, since each cardinal is always given a titular church that, in and of itself, is proof that this is his original zucchetto.
I’ve also done a little research with the person I actually got the zucchetto from. And other people who have been secretaries to cardinals when they were elected have said it is a common thing when someone is made cardinal to put this little tag inside the hat. This is because every cardinal wants a different size zucchetto that feels comfortable to wear.
I have a number of zucchettoes in the Collection. This one, historically speaking is the most important one because it’s so associated with Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II, in regards to his consistory, which, of course, lead to his election as our Holy Father.
The origin of the zucchetto was to cover tonsures of priests. When they joined a religious order and were ordained a little piece of their hair was cut from the crowns of their heads. We see that in pictures of St. Anthony of Padua in particular. As European winters were very, very cold they just used a little piece of cloth to cover their heads–like a winter hat.
The zucchetto dates back to the 13th century. The pope’s zucchetto is white. Cardinals’ are red and bishops’ are violet. –Fr. Richard Kunst
Karol Wojtyla was created cardinal June 26, 1967, by Pope St. Paul VI.