Is a priest or deacon allowed to wear a black zucchetto during the Mass like a bishop?


Is a priest or deacon allowed to wear a black zucchetto during the Mass as a bishop wears a violet one, a cardinal a red one, and the pope a white one? I have never come across a Church reference that either allows or disallows this practice. Does anyone here happen to know of one?

I’m aware of Fr. James-Charles Noonan’s comments on the subject in his book The Church Visible: The Ceremonial Life and Protocol of the Roman Catholic Church, but they carry no authority on their own, and I don’t recall him providing an authoritative reference.

I can’t see why the practice wouldn’t be allowed, but there may be some documentation I’m simply not aware of. Thanks.


Here is a link

The Motu Proprio of Bl Paul VI from 1968 is not published on the Vatican website.

It would be in AAS 60 but a word-search for zucchetto doesn’t reveal anything relevant in the 900 pages.

I mention this because the author of the article speaks about such a Motu Proprio.


An Abbot, properly, could employ the black zucchetto when celebrating Mass. Otherwise, the person you cite is substantially correct, if off on a few of the minor details.


Let’s zero in on the big issues.


Like what? If for instance newly minted cardinals should once again have a galero placed on their heads by the pope rather than merely a zucchetto and birettta?

In any event after considering my question for a time, it’s now quite clear, sans any further official information that a priest or deacon could indeed properly wear a black zuchetto during the Mass as described above, so long as there is no objection from their ordinaries.


Non of the popes have worne a birettas


That’s quite correct. Has anyone here suggested differently?


Yes! In fact, this was the liturgical norm for any priest(diocesan or religious) who did not habitually wear their hoods up! I’m sure you can find a few pictures of Padre Pio wearing his brown zuchetto. I even know of a priest who wears his black zuchetto very often.


You’re absolutely correct. Nothing happened other than the fact priests and deacons (who were not religious with hoods) were no longer required to wear zucchettos as prelates do during the Mass. Odd how that turns into “priests may not wear zuchettos during the Mass!” for many.


A few years back I went to a celebration of the EF Mass after the Walk for Life in San Francisco. There were about a dozen priests concelebrating. The religious all wore their hoods in procession, while all the secular clergy wore birettas – some over zucchettos. Good Mass. Good memory…


The Oratorians of Phillip Neri wear black zuchettos. In fact, I once saw one of their discerners wearing a black turtleneck and black zucchetto. He looked fantastic. I think we get awfully caught up in who can wear what. Did you know that years ago students at all boys Catholic high schools (“seminaries”) wore cassocks to class everyday. The majority of them were there for a quality education and had no intentions of entering the priesthood.


I agree very much! Some time ago we had a parochial vicar who wore a pectoral cross outside of his chasuble. It was a gift from his family and he had the bishop’s approval to wear it. It’s not as if anyone was going to mistake him for a bishop anyway.

Yet I remember the liturgical technicians in my parish grilling him about it.

From what I understand in years past, a number of actual high school minor seminaries (not simply boy’s Catholic high schools) had fairly poor overall academic programs (perhaps too narrowly focused?) – unlike typical Catholic schools which have always been some of the best. I know of one archdiocese where there was great reform in their HS seminaries.

I have also heard that many entered HS minor seminaries in the past as a means to a free Catholic education without as you note, any real discernment of the priesthood. Not many (only 6) HS minor seminaries left in the US anymore.


There would not be a dozen priests concelebrating an EF Mass, as this is not possible in the rite. There may have been priests present in choir, but not as concelebrants.


You’re absolutely right. One of the great deficiencies of the EF Mass…


I respectfully disagree. Concelebration as we know and experience it today is a modern innovation, only in the last fifty or so years. I would hardly call the absence of something that was unknown until recently a deficiency.



Additionally, I know of churches that used to have 30+ side altars (My local seminary is a prime example) so that every priest who was present at a Mass would be able to celebrate… I personally wish the NO had not done away with side altars and simultaneous Masses


Have you ever seen photos or video of rooms full of clerics each celebrating the Mass on tiny card table “altars”?

I would call concelebration a “modern improvement.”


When facilities permit, I Would find individual altar celebrations, such as th and one I described above, ideal… Con celebration would be permitted when facilities necessitated.


Thank God for concelebration!


Why don’t you like that? If a facility has the ability to have that number of con celebrants, what’s the problem?
Just to clarify, the side altars at this seminay were placed under each of the stained glass windows of the chapel,…

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