April 02, 2011

Galero (Galerus, Pontifical Hat) and Galero Parasole

A coat of arms of a cardinal with the galero

S.E. Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
wearing a galero at the occasion of prize-giving "Nulla sine Vertias Tradition" of the International Catholic Association "Tu es Petrus" in Battipaglia, Italy, 19th of February 2011.

Galero [Galerus, Pontifical Hat]

Previously worn in the Roman Catholic Church by cardinals in festive processions such as at the coronation of a pope in an era when cavalcades with horses were still common. On the death of a cardinal, his galero was initially placed at the foot of the catafalque and later hung above his tomb. During the period when the pope presented a galero in a consistory, the cardinal receiving it would place it between two candlesticks on a credence table in his antechamber or study. This was considered a sign of respect for the origin of the cardinal's dignity, directly and immediately from the hand of the pope. The body of the hat is made of felt dyed ruby-red and lined inside with ruby-red silk. From the right and left hand sides of the galero hang red and gold cords ending in a "tassel tree". Each of these "trees" consists of 15 tassels, making 30 tassels in all. Each tassel is ornamented with gold thread and consists of three strings with three smaller tassels. There are also two tassels fixed above the brim of the hat.

Galero in the shop window of Ditta Annibale Gammarelli, Rome, Italy

Giovanni Battista Cardinal Montini, later Pope Paul VI.
holding a galero in his hands

Galero parasole and cappa magna

The pope put a galero parasole on the head of a cardinal

George Cardinal Pell (left), Archbishop of Sydney, made a short private visit of the Oratory in Edgbaston, Birmingham, on Thursday 5th of March 2009. Father Paul Chavasse (right), Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Actor of the Newman Cause, showed the Australian visitor Cardinal Newman’s galero.

© Picture: Te igitur, clementissime Pater, 4th of April 2011
Galero parasole of Michael Kardinal von Faulhaber

© Picture: Papalartifacts
Galero parasole of Pope Pius XII

Galero Parasole

Galero Parasole

Galero Parasole hanging down from the ceiling of a cathedral
For example to see in the Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago, IL, USA:
"Immediately above the sanctuary panels, you can see five red, broad-brimmed, ornamental hats suspended from the ceiling. Traditionally, this symbol of a Cardinal is raised to the ceiling of his cathedral upon his death. The hat hangs until it turns into dust, a reminder that all earthly glory is passing. The center hat belonged to Chicago’s first Cardinal, George Mundelein. From left to right, the galeros represent Chicago’s late Cardinals Meyer, Bernardin, Mundelein, Cody and Stritch. With Vatican II, the Pope discontinued the practice of presenting a galero to newly installed Cardinals. The tradition continued, however, and hats were made for Chicago’s post-Vatican II Cardinals, Cody and Bernardin."

This galero was made by Father Bede Rowe of St George's Catholic Church, Warminster, Great Britain on the occasion of the Solemn Pontifical Requiem for the bicentenary of the death of Henry Benedict Cardinal Stuart, held in the chapel of the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth, London on 22nd of September 2007.

© Picture: Vernon Quaintance, traditionalcatholic.org.uk

© Picture: Vernon Quaintance, traditionalcatholic.org.uk

© picture: Orbis Catholicus, 9th of November 2008

© picture: Orbis Catholicus, 9th of November 2008

© picture: Piotrus
Museum of Archdiocese in Gniezno, Hats of Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński 

Cardinal Luigi Macchi (1832 + 1907) and his court, c. 1890
The cardinal is not wearing the pectoral cross, a late development.
"Note, from left to right, the three footmen in livery with the traditional braid woven with the cardinal’s arms; the Caudatario (train bearer), holding the cardinal’s Roman three cornered hat (in my opinion it is a cappello romano/Saturno, no tricorne); the Maestro di Camera (chamberlain), the cardinal, sitting on a tronetto, with at his back on the left (his right) the Coppiere (cup-bearer), and a second Gentiluomo on the right, both in abito di città; then the secretary, in nigris and silk ferraiolone, and the Uditore (legal adviser or lawyer, Uditore can also mean judge), and finally the Decano (butler), in white tie, knee breeches, ferraiolone, and buckled shoes, holding the galero. In the back row, possibliy the Maestro di Casa, and three Aiutanti di Camera (valets) in white tie and black waistcoat. The secretary, Maestro di Camera, and Decano all wear the black silk ferraiolone. A cardinal’s court was divided in the Anticamera Nobile (Maestro di Camera, presiding, Auditore, Segretario, Coppiere, Gentiluomini), Seconda Anticamera (Maestro di Casa, Caudatario, cappellano, Cameriere), and finally the Sala (Decano, Aiutanti di Camera, footmen and stables). A cardinal’s or prince’s court was also known as “famiglia”, literally family; another term was “casa”, literally house. The papal court is still called “famiglia or casa pontificia”."

© picture: Ceremonia y rúbrica de la Iglesia española 


  1. An excellent post. Nice to have all of this information together in one post. The galero is my favorite hat - rich with symbolism and meaning. Since I was a boy every time I go to a big city I look for the hanging galero in the local cathedral (i.e. Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., etc.).

  2. A very interesting and educational post! I would just like to ask if the Galero and the Galero Parasole differ in function? It seems that you distinguish them and that the pictures above also show different styles (eg. some have flat "heads" while the others have fuller ones (Cardinal Burke's and the other pictures), the fiocchi also differ in both.) Again, many thanks and I shall pray for you and your endeavors.

  3. @ Kate:
    Thank you for your comment.

    The galero is a hat that is worn.

    The galero parasole was never worn. It was hold by the cardinal's assistant above his head to protect him against sunlight.

  4. Thank you for the response Mr. Philippi! So, the hat given during the consistory was actually only worn once and never used again? Also, I've been learning a lot from your wonderful blog, many thanks!

  5. @ Kate:
    In former times the galero was worn as well. F.e. you can see on ancient paintings cardinals wearing the galero when riding on their horses.

  6. Can you take the tassels off? Are they put on for ceremonial use only? Because some of the galeros have tassels while others don't.

  7. Can you remove the tassels? Are they taken on and off for ceremonial use and then for everyday wear (well, when people still wore them). Because some of them have the tassels while others don't.

    1. Normally the tassels are fix and not removable.


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