Why the pope wore that ‘Santa hat’

Catholic News Service photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo

A few days before Christmas in the first year of his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI sported a red velvet cap trimmed with ermine.

Known as a “camauro,” the old-fashioned headwear promptly earned the nickname “Santa hat” among some. Others questioned why the German pontiff seemed to be reviving a papal fashion not seen in many decades.

The pope answers the questions in his new book. 

Catholic News Service has the story:

“I wore it only once,” (the pope said). “I was just cold, and I happen to have a sensitive head. And I said, since the camauro is there, let’s put it on. But I was really just trying to fight off the cold,” he said.

The pope’s appearance in the cap caused a minor uproar in the media, which saw it as a kind of pre-Vatican II fashion statement. In the book, the pope said he hasn’t put it on since that day, “in order to forestall over-interpretation.”


About George P. Matysek Jr.

George P. Matysek Jr. is the assistant managing editor of The Catholic Review in Baltimore. View all posts by George P. Matysek Jr.

5 responses to “Why the pope wore that ‘Santa hat’

  • Fr. Larry

    Glory be to Jesus Christ! Just found your blog via “New Catholic Blogs.” You can check out might two sites. The first one is for homilies called romancatholichomilies.blogspot.com and the other is for other things at wherethereispeter.blogspot.com

  • George Matysek

    Great to see you on here, Father Larry! I will check out your blogs!

  • Laura

    Hey George,
    I was scanning through lookings for your movie trailer, and I came across this santa hat post that I missed before. Wow! Talk about a fashion statement. I couldn’t stop laughing. Poor Pope Benedict can never wear a hat again, now. This is almost as controversial as Lady Gaga’s meat dress. Crazy!
    Don’t you think he should have known that it looked like a santa hat, though, and where did it come from? Did he just get it out of a case at the Vatican museum where all the other retro pope hats are?

  • 2010 in review « The Narthex

    […] Why the pope wore that ‘Santa hat’ November 20104 comments 3 […]

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