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Source: (consider it) Thread: Birettas
JLB
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What is the significance of a biretta? The priest of a nearby AC benefice has decreed that any priest celebrating mass in any of their churches must wear a biretta. Why would that be?
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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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I have just looked in vain for the origin of how the biretta came to be first worn by clerics. A parish priest insisting on the wearing of that, would seem to be a tall order and a law-unto-himself. A biretta would have to be provided if necessary. I assume that all priests concerned would be male priests.
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Bishops Finger
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Sounds like a Wannabe Pope or something.

[Roll Eyes]

I hope he's as concerned for the mission and outreach of his parish.

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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Angloid
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Even if he is desperate for holiday cover?
I must admit I can't think of a convincing theological reason for not wearing one, but equally that works both ways.

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Brenda Clough
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Where would one buy a biretta? What color should it be?

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Albertus
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I think if I were a neighbouring priest I would decree that any priest requiring me to wear a biretta could go and stick his head, biretta and all, up a dead bear's bum, but y'know, I'm like that.

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Enoch
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It isn't and as far as I am aware never has been, any part of normal CofE practice of any tradition to wear such a thing while leading any sort of service, whether eucharistic or otherwise. So this chap is well out of order in going off on what can only be described as a jolly of his own in insisting on any sort of thing.
quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:
Even if he is desperate for holiday cover?
I must admit I can't think of a convincing theological reason for not wearing one, but equally that works both ways.

Actually there is,
quote:
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonors her head. (1 Cor 11:4-5, WEB Bible
I suppose the questions one should ask are,
1. How many parishes has this chap responsibility for?
2. Are they getting many people at their services? and
3. If lots of people are, is his fascination with birettas contributing to this or getting in the way of it?

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Galilit
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
Where would one buy a biretta? What color should it be?

Almy, Wippell's, Gamarelli - the usual places

As to colour - I imagine that you could get absolutely anything custom-made.

There was (till 2013) a hilarious blog called Domus Birettarum and of course Dieter Philippi has his marvellous collection

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
Where would one buy a biretta? What color should it be?

I cannot speak for Washington DC (where you are from) but birettas are sure to be on sale at ecclesiastical suppliers in London. I hesitate to name any firm, without first enquiring locally.

As to what colour of the biretta, depends on the rank or seniority of the cleric, but an "ordinary" deacon or priest who is not a canon, bishop, archbishop, cardinal or pope, would wear a plain black biretta.

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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My post crossed with that of Galilit.
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leo
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I thought we saw the last of silly hats back in 1964 - that's when my home parish stopped them,.

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Gamaliel
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Since when has it been CofE policy for priests to be armed?

(I'll get me coat ...)

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Angloid
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
IActually there is, [a theological reason for not wearing one]
quote:
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonors her head. (1 Cor 11:4-5, WEB Bible

I think birettas are a silly affectation and have no place in modern worship. But to be fair, nobody actually prays while wearing one. A priest would wear it en route to and from the altar, and possibly while sitting listening to readings or a sermon. It would be removed for the majority of the service.

Incidentally does anyone know of a woman priest who habitually wears a biretta? According to St Paul she should!

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Rossweisse

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I know a woman priest who wore a biretta. It actually looked pretty good on her.

(Since "biretta" is an Italian word, isn't the plural properly "biretti"? Or has it been sufficiently Anglicized to permit an s-plural?)

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Forthview
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Good try,Whitehorse,but 'biretta' though it may look Italian is not so.
In Italian the word is 'berretta'. As a feminine noun where the singular ends in 'a' it has the plural form 'berrette'
I leave it to the Anglicans to decide when Anglican clergy should or should not wear such headgear.

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Galilit
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quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:

Incidentally does anyone know of a woman priest who habitually wears a biretta? According to St Paul she should!

The Reverend Barbie, at St Mary's by the Ocean, Malibu, California. Especially when she has to walk in her soutane along the sea-front on the First Shabbat of the month to the Inter-faith liturgical dance group led by Reform Rabba Barbie of the Miriam of the Red Sea synagogue

[ 24. August 2017, 07:50: Message edited by: Galilit ]

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Ian Climacus

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They seem popular here in Anglican circles by priests of an Anglo-Catholic persuasion. Or at least that has been my experience.

They do doff them at set times, perhaps in reference to the 1 Corinthians passage quoted.

I must say I like them. But then I did turn Orthodox and they have some stylish headwear.

edit; A/C, not high.

[ 24. August 2017, 08:33: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]

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Gee D
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We have seen Anglican priests in the Western District of Victoria (Ballarat Diocese) walking around the town in soutane and biretta. Given the winter climate there, you'd hope that they had generous underpinnings.

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Aggie
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The clergy at the church that I attend now used to wear birettas as the previous vicar insisted upon it, and even used to make visiting priests wear one. Also, whichever server was sub-deacon at the Mass had to wear a biretta too. However, the current incumbent is a "modern Roman" Anglo-Catholic, so has ditched birettas altogether, much to the discuss of some of the traditionalist servers.
During various visits to Walsingham, I have noticed that some Anglo-Catholic priests also wear Saturn hats, Capello Romano I think they are called, if they are not wearing a biretta. I've not seen any wearing a black skullcap though!

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Anselmina
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
I think if I were a neighbouring priest I would decree that any priest requiring me to wear a biretta could go and stick his head, biretta and all, up a dead bear's bum, but y'know, I'm like that.

I thought you were going to say that any priest requiring you to do that would have to supply the biretta. But I see you've gone for a slightly more imaginative and fruitier alternative! [Yipee]

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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quote:
Originally posted by Forthview:
Good try,Whitehorse,but 'biretta' though it may look Italian is not so.
In Italian the word is 'berretta'. As a feminine noun where the singular ends in 'a' it has the plural form 'berrette'
I leave it to the Anglicans to decide when Anglican clergy should or should not wear such headgear.

Forthview beat me to in seeing this one and is as he says. I learnt earlier on in s-o-f that the plural of biretta is birettas rather than birette.

There is a mention of a skullcap, for which the liturgical name is zucchetto plural zucchetti, which is Italian. Those who prefer Spanish, apparently, is solideo plural solideos.

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Brenda Clough
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Here is Almy's biretta. Gosh, that is somewhat comic. I kind of like the zucchetto better, down at the bottom. Are all these not in reality simply ploys to cover bald spots? You would never get a female clergyperson to wear such a thing; talk about hat hair.

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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by Galilit:
quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:

Incidentally does anyone know of a woman priest who habitually wears a biretta? According to St Paul she should!

The Reverend Barbie, at St Mary's by the Ocean, Malibu, California. Especially when she has to walk in her soutane along the sea-front on the First Shabbat of the month to the Inter-faith liturgical dance group led by Reform Rabba Barbie of the Miriam of the Red Sea synagogue
I do know of one, but given the mockery in play, I'll spare her the exposure on this thread. She is far more catholic and soberly devout than many a-c clerics of my acquaintance.

My old complaint about the biretta mirrors that of the blessed Percy, who felt that graduates of Italian universities could wear them, but that Anglican clerics should adopt the Canterbury cap or a black skullcap. Spanish universities produce the most spectacular birettas, often with gold fringe and sometimes creating the image of an epaulette worn on the head.

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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Normally, birettas have three wings, with the left-hand wing missing. But for clerics with doctorate qualifations, the left-hand wing is present, making the full-complement of four wings. But purple pipings and purple pom-poms are added for senior clerics such as canons - or a different colour as appropriate. But normally, the biretta is plain black.
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Angloid
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
We have seen Anglican priests in the Western District of Victoria (Ballarat Diocese) walking around the town in soutane and biretta. Given the winter climate there, you'd hope that they had generous underpinnings.

Is it only anglo-catholic clerics who wear birettas in the street? I seem to think that even the strictest pre-Vat-2 RC clergy regard them as for liturgical use only.

A priest from Ballarat diocese was my temporary curate once. He was at the same time the most red-blooded macho caricature of an Aussie 'Bruce' as well as being a bells/smells and lace anglo-catholic of the highest order.

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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:
quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
We have seen Anglican priests in the Western District of Victoria (Ballarat Diocese) walking around the town in soutane and biretta. Given the winter climate there, you'd hope that they had generous underpinnings.

Is it only anglo-catholic clerics who wear birettas in the street? I seem to think that even the strictest pre-Vat-2 RC clergy regard them as for liturgical use only.
Not so, as is proven by this video, of canonical authority.
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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by JLB:
What is the significance of a biretta?

I can't speak for what anyone else sees in them, but I turned mine into a tea cosy. Later, I must have lost it in a house move. I hope it's still keeping a teapot warm somewhere.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:

A priest from Ballarat diocese was my temporary curate once. He was at the same time the most red-blooded macho caricature of an Aussie 'Bruce' as well as being a bells/smells and lace anglo-catholic of the highest order.

A pretty accurate picture of that diocese 30 or 40 years ago. The Bruce part has now gone.

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Oblatus
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I bought a biretta (I need a large size) at the House of Hansen here in Chicago for when I need to wear one as a subdeacon (not often). Three blades; all black.

Word to the wise: If your biretta comes with a tag attached that says, "Do Not Cut This Thread" (the thread around the pom-pon's "trunk"), obey that tag. I assumed it was meant for the shop owner. Sure, the pom-pon looks like a shaving brush at first, but it will relax eventually. Cutting the cord makes it all flop down. I replaced the thread with a black twist-tie, but it's not the same. May have to have a new pom-pon attached or just refresh the whole biretta.

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Brenda Clough
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You can't tie on a new black thread yourself? You might need an assistant, to hold the hat upside down while you tie.

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pete173
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The great trick, when you're preaching at a service full of biretta-ed priests, is to mention the name of Jesus frequently in the sermon, and watch them spend the entire homily doffing and replacing the thing. [Smile]

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Pete

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ThunderBunk

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quote:
Originally posted by pete173:
The great trick, when you're preaching at a service full of biretta-ed priests, is to mention the name of Jesus frequently in the sermon, and watch them spend the entire homily doffing and replacing the thing. [Smile]

Naughty bishop!

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Basilica
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quote:
Originally posted by pete173:
The great trick, when you're preaching at a service full of biretta-ed priests, is to mention the name of Jesus frequently in the sermon, and watch them spend the entire homily doffing and replacing the thing. [Smile]

The other game involves the tradition that you only remove the biretta on the first three mentions of the name of Jesus. You say the word twice in the first sentence and then avoid it until the very end of the sermon, leaving all the biretta-ed priests anxiously waiting for it.
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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:
Is it only anglo-catholic clerics who wear birettas in the street? I seem to think that even the strictest pre-Vat-2 RC clergy regard them as for liturgical use only.

One of the priests here still walks do my road from where he parks his car to the church wearing his.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Basilica:
quote:
Originally posted by pete173:
The great trick, when you're preaching at a service full of biretta-ed priests, is to mention the name of Jesus frequently in the sermon, and watch them spend the entire homily doffing and replacing the thing. [Smile]

The other game involves the tradition that you only remove the biretta on the first three mentions of the name of Jesus. You say the word twice in the first sentence and then avoid it until the very end of the sermon, leaving all the biretta-ed priests anxiously waiting for it.
But add Mary and the saint of the day.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
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dj_ordinaire
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quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:
Even if he is desperate for holiday cover?
I must admit I can't think of a convincing theological reason for not wearing one, but equally that works both ways.

The most charitable spin I can put on this is that the requirement is being used as a proxy to ensure any visiting priest or vacation cover is willing to abide by the wider worship ethos of the parish.

The argument would not be that there is any theological significance to the biretta, but that a biretta-wearer is probably 'sound' on matters that are of theological significance (at least in the few of the priest in question...).

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L'organist
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I know a retired priest who wears a Canterbury cap, which is really the origin of the biretta; the pom-pom on the top of a biretta was probably added by some enterprising clerical outfitter and it caught on ...

The real reason for any CofE clergyperson to have a biretta is so that the children can wear it to school and amaze/amuse their friends [Yipee]

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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
I know a retired priest who wears a Canterbury cap, which is really the origin of the biretta; the pom-pom on the top of a biretta was probably added by some enterprising clerical outfitter and it caught on ...

The real reason for any CofE clergyperson to have a biretta is so that the children can wear it to school and amaze/amuse their friends [Yipee]

Teenagers wear some extraordinary headgear, and it might not get that much notice.

The Canterbury cap is more a parallel development of late mediaeval headgear-- we can see a cousin of it in the Tudor bonnet found at some universities. I can see the relation between a biretta and the English university graduate's hat, as can be seen in old films of Mr Chips with his mortarboard-- the Italian biretta as we know it is the northern Italian university variety. Followers of biretta extremism might find comfort in this image of a Spanish biretta in tartan.

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Basilica:
quote:
Originally posted by pete173:
The great trick, when you're preaching at a service full of biretta-ed priests, is to mention the name of Jesus frequently in the sermon, and watch them spend the entire homily doffing and replacing the thing. [Smile]

The other game involves the tradition that you only remove the biretta on the first three mentions of the name of Jesus. You say the word twice in the first sentence and then avoid it until the very end of the sermon, leaving all the biretta-ed priests anxiously waiting for it.
But add Mary and the saint of the day.
Quite so. In my experience, biretta-attired clergy give up constantly doffing early on, by removing the biretta for the rest of the sermon. One quip I once heard from a preacher was, "You lot are going to have an awful job! I am going to mention the Holy Name over and over again!". (Laughter and removed birettas!)
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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Augustine the Aleut:
... Followers of biretta extremism might find comfort in this image of a Spanish biretta in tartan.

In stead of a pompom, shouldn't it have a thistle sticking out of the top?

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Albertus
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Here is the Archbishop of Uganda in a Canterbury Cap.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by dj_ordinaire:
quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:
Even if he is desperate for holiday cover?
I must admit I can't think of a convincing theological reason for not wearing one, but equally that works both ways.

The most charitable spin I can put on this is that the requirement is being used as a proxy to ensure any visiting priest or vacation cover is willing to abide by the wider worship ethos of the parish.
Indeed - back home, in my teens, nobody was allowed to celebrate at our altars unless he broke off a bit of the host during the Agnus Dei and put it in the chalice.

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Forthview
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On St Ninian's day (16th Sept.)in 2009 pope Benedict XVI paid an official visit to Scotland.The Queen came down specially from Balmoral to greet His Holiness.He gave her a facsimile copy of the Lorsch Gospels and Her Majesty gave him a facsimile copy of a book of paintings by Hans Holbein.
After that the pope travelled through Edinburgh
in the popemobile wearing a scarf (non-liturgical) in the specially created Papal St Ninian's tartan, before having lunch (and a nap) at the residence of the Cardinal Archbishop.

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Oblatus
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quote:
Originally posted by pete173:
The great trick, when you're preaching at a service full of biretta-ed priests, is to mention the name of Jesus frequently in the sermon, and watch them spend the entire homily doffing and replacing the thing. [Smile]

Having mentioned the Holy Name twice, start throwing in the word "exegesis" and see how many doff their birettas unnecessarily.

[Two face]

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Leaf
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quote:
Originally posted by Basilica:
The other game involves the tradition that you only remove the biretta on the first three mentions of the name of Jesus. You say the word twice in the first sentence and then avoid it until the very end of the sermon, leaving all the biretta-ed priests anxiously waiting for it.

Biretta Beetlejuice? [Big Grin]
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Ceremoniar
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Our sacristy (FSSP parish) has an extra biretta for bareheaded clerics who visit. As for doffing at the Holy Name during the sermon, after the third mention, they just bow their heads, birettas still in place.
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sabine
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[tangent]
Several years ago I attended an Eritrean Orthodox liturgy. Not only did I see head gear but also umbrellas being held over the priests (some with other hat variations)
[/tangent]
sabine

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georgiaboy
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Two biretta memories from quite long ago (from the same parish):
  • a Sunday in Easter-tide: Offertory anthem was 'If We Belive that Jesus Died' by John Goss. Comment after the mass by a priest who had been seated in choir (wearing his biretta) -- If you are going to use the Holy Name contrapuntally, you might warn us in advance!
  • an Advent sermon in which the name of Mary had been invoked at least a couple of times: somehow the preacher managed to slip in a 'Merry Christmas' toward the end, and two birette were dutifully doffed
And, no, I DIDN'T make either of those up!

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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by sabine:
[tangent]
Several years ago I attended an Eritrean Orthodox liturgy. Not only did I see head gear but also umbrellas being held over the priests (some with other hat variations) [/tangent]
sabine

Sadly, the papal umbraculum is no longer seen, athough in the summer climate of Rome, it might be practical (although Vatican stamp collectors will recognize the ombrellino from the interludes between popes). With global warming, Canterbury may soon have the same summer temperatures as Asmara at Lammas (40°C), and I would hope that ++Justin would then adopt this practice.

As both Laetare and Gaudete Sundays happen at more temperate times of year, we would be spared the sight of rose umbrellas during processions.

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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by Oblatus:
quote:
Originally posted by pete173:
The great trick, when you're preaching at a service full of biretta-ed priests, is to mention the name of Jesus frequently in the sermon, and watch them spend the entire homily doffing and replacing the thing. [Smile]

Having mentioned the Holy Name twice, start throwing in the word "exegesis" and see how many doff their birettas unnecessarily.

[Two face]

Work in some cheeses while you're at it.

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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