galero cardinal hat st jerome by reubens

A Galero is a broad-brimmed hat with tasseled strings which used to be worn by clergy in the Catholic Church. Over the centuries, the Red Galero was restricted to use by individual cardinals while other colours such as violet and green were reserved for other clergy.

The Pope when creating a cardinal, used to place a Scarlet Galero on the new cardinal’s head in consistory, the practice giving rise to the phrase ‘receiving the red hat’. A Papal decree in 1969 ended the use of the Galero. Only the scarlet zucchetto and biretta are placed over the heads of cardinals during the consistory.

The Galero traditionally remains over the tomb of a deceased cardinal until  reduced to dust, symbolic of how all earthly glory is passing. In a cathedral that has no crypt, the Galeri (pl.) are suspended from the ceiling. An example of this is in 1999 the relatives of Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster, had his Galero installed above his tomb in Westminster Cathedral, alongside those of his predecessors.

The galero continues to appear today in ecclesiastical heraldry as part of the achievement of the coat of arms of an armigerous Catholic cleric.

Famous Galero wearers

  • Cardinal Basil Hume