By Father Kelvin Ugwu
The small skullcap that is typically worn by Bishops, Cardinals and Pope is called the zucchetto (plural- zucchetti.) The Pope’s zucchetto is white, that of the Cardinals is red, while the ones for the Bishops is purple.
Historically, the skullcap was created to protect the part of the wearer’s head bared by tonsure. It is used to cover that part from cold.
(Tonsure is a ritual shaving of the crown of the head as a sign of humility and one’s religious vocation. It is also a way of identifying with Christ who wore a crown of thorns during his passion. It was usually a requirement that before ordination to the priesthood, the circular shaving of the person’s crown of head is done. This was later abolished by Pope Paul VI in 1972.)
Today, the zucchetto symbolizes the bishop’s duty to keep watch over his whole flock, sustaining the weak and wavering, solidifying the faith, and leading those gone astray back into the true fold.
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