biretta hat

Roman Catholic clergy hat

The Biretta is a square cap with three or four ridges or peaks traditionally worn by Roman Catholic clergy and some Anglican and Lutheran clergy. Sometimes a Biretta is topped with a tuft or pom.

A Cardinal’s Biretta has no pom – it’s given to them by the Pope as is their Zucchetto. Bishops bear a purple pom. Priests who have been appointed as prelates to certain positions in the Vatican wear a black biretta with red pom. Diocesan priests and deacons wear a black biretta with an optional black pom.

Biretta is also the term used for a similar cap worn by those holding doctoral degrees from some universities, and is occasionally used for caps worn by advocates in law courts, for instance the Advocates in the Channel Islands.

Mentioned as early as the tenth century, the origin of the Biretta is probably the academic hat of the Middle Ages, which was a soft, square cap.

The medieval academic hat is the ancestor of the modern mortarboard hat used today in universities.

Biretta rank and styles

  • Cardinal = No pom
  • Bishop = Purple pom
  • Priest appointed as Prelates = Black with red pom
  • Diocesan Priests = Black with optional black pom

Famous wearers of the Biretta

  • Cardinals
  • Bishops
  • Priests
  • Deacons
birretta styles catholic church

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