May 03, 2011

The Original Biretta was not Collapsible!

"La barett romaine ne se plie pas et reste constamment ouverte: rien n'est disgracieux, en effet, comme cette coiffure, si l'on s'avise de la plier en quatre et de l'aplatir, suivant le système français."
(To enlarge, click on the picture)

After Xavier Barbier de Montault  the "real" or original Roman biretta is not foldable/collapsible!
[Le costume et les usages ecclésiastiques selon la tradition romaine, Volume 1: Règles générales, le costume usuel, le costume de chœur, Letouzey et Ané, Paris, ca. 1900, page 229, last paragraph]


To visualize have a look at the following sketch:

A collapsibel/foldable biretta is not comfortable to wear and doesn't looks elegant.
1. You have open triangles over the ears, the forehead and the occipital.
2. You have pressure sores on 4 sides.
3. If the biretta is made of uncoated cardboard inside, it is very susceptible to rain.

4. "Putting a round peg in a square hole
Sounds easier than it actually is, in Biretta terms, but it does allow us to embrace a new word which is always a source of much rejoicing (apart from for Mother Prioress, who remembers Dr Johnson’s very first dictionary being published), and that word is: ‘dolichocephalic.’ It literally means long or oval-headedness , and is a highly important consideration when trying to fit a square box onto a circular, prolate or oval-shaped head. ..."
Domus Birettarum, 29th of March 2011

Oval shape, like the human skull 
Inside with a hat-sweatband to improve comfort when worn.

Perfect fit!

High-quality workmanship of a genuine Roman biretta
Custom-made by a professional milliner
Get such a biretta made for your cardinal or bishop!
He will like it for sure! And never wear a collapsible one.

Non collapsible Toque Avocat worn by Frensh lawyers
made by Ponsard & Dumas, Lyon, France


  1. Mr. Phillipi, would you please provide the contact information for the milliner who made the cardinals non collapsible biretta? Thank you!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Dear Mr Carter:
      You can contact Ms Bea Kahl form
      She will be able to assist you.

  2. Dear Mr. Philippi,
    Thank you so much. Have a happy and healthy new year!

  3. Dear Mr. Philippi,
    Thank you for your blog.
    Some time ago, I purchased a cardinal's biretta as a keepsake.
    Looking at the picture of Cardinal Burke above, as well as the diagram about open triangles, it appears my biretta is a collapsible one.
    However, I am afraid to fold it because I may ruin its form.
    Can you please give us detailed instructions on how to fold a collapsible biretta?
    Thank you very much! :)

    1. Dear Prices Ecclesiae:
      it doesn't exist a special instruction how to fold a collapsible biretta. Normally they are folded upon purchase. Try to sense the rise on the cardboard below the red silk fabric. At this place you can try and fold ist carefully.


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