Simple question about priest

ok simple quesiton

why does the pope wear white

why do cardinals where red

and why do priest where black

also why do bishops and above where the hat (i don’t know the name)

and priest below don’t

Cardinals wear red, because it’s the apostolic color – the color of martyr’s blood.

The pope used to wear red, but started wearing white when one of the popes (Pope Pius V) kept wearing the white robes of his religious order (he was a Dominican) after becoming pope. You’ll notice that when the current pope wears choir dress or that nice fur-trimmed top layer for warmth, they are still red; the same with the pope’s shoes. Sometimes he wears a red hat, too.

Bishops wear “amaranth red”, which is basically purple. (It’s a very reddish purple, I agree; but Roman purple was very red; what we call purple was called violet in the Roman Empire.) Nobody seems sure why, except that it’s a convenient color code.

Priests wear black because it used to be considered a sober, serious color for serious and prudent people, several centuries back, once black dyes became colorfast. Business dress used to be black, for instance. It has a lot of advantages (doesn’t show stains, goes with everything).

The beanies are called zucchettos. They keep your head warm in a cold church, and are easier hats to deal with than a beretta, a saturno, or a galero. Priests and deacons can wear zucchettos (in black), but usually don’t, these days; they usually wear berettas or nothing in church.

The hat you refer to is called a “mitre”. There are accounts that this tradition goes as far back as the apostles but the styles have changed over the years. We know for certain that it goes as far back as 1000 AD. It is authorized by canon law to only bishops (the pope is a bishop too but he can also wear a crown or tierra at his option) and in some specific cases abbots and other dignitaries (rarer now) nay also wear mitres.

The mitre is generally taken as a sign of the apostolic office - which is what bishops are - apostolic successors. Only a bishop has the full range of apostolic spiritual authorities to ordain other bishops, priests and deacons through a rite which includes laying on of hands and to bind and loose sins and to preside over all ecclesial matters in his diocese. When one sees the mitre (and the accompanying shepherds staff when in solem assemblies) one immediately knows that this person is an apostolic representative of Christ - a full disciple with full apostolic spiritual powers and worthy of high esteem and respect.


Re zucchettos - it’s possible that you will see some priests wearing them. Not secular priests but religious ones (ordained monks), depending on the order.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit