Thursday, October 30, 2008

Color-Photos from the Vatican

I am kind of in a hurry right now and since most of these pictures already were published on the old "far sight", I'll just post them here for your pleasure without any further comment.


Pius Redivivus said...

In the last picture, and in the one where the cardinals are paying obeisance to John XXIII, their cappas look purple. I should know why, but I'm afraid I don't. Could you provide some guidance? Thanks!

Great pictures, as always!

leo said...

Two explanations that come to mind without consulting the books are that

a) sometimes the colors in those kind of photos simply don't look right (which is certainly valid for the obeisance-picture) or

b) that we are dealing with cardinals in mourning (which is probably the case with the last photo)

Anonymous said...

I don't know the specific reasons for it but the cardinals are supposed to wear purple when giving the obedience so the pictures are correct.

I believe there is some kind of aspect of humility or something like that, perhaps mourning as well that factors in to the color.

P.S. This blog is AMAZING. I check it non stop because the pictures always brighten up my day!!!

leo said...

Thanks for the input and the praise, anonymous!

latinmass1983 said...

It cannot be "mourning" because the Pope is alive (in the picture)! The only time the cardinals "mourn" is when the Pope dies. Other than that, if they use violet, it is penitential.

This might be a conistory (but why at the Lateran?). Usually, consistories used to take place during penitential season and the cardinals would have to wear a purple cappa magna. Or it might just simply be penitential season.

Why would the Cardinal wear red when doing the ceremonies of Obedience? I've seen other pictures in which they are wearing red for that.

latinmass1983 said...


Since you are a fervent fan of cappae magne: have you ever found pictures/illustrations/etc. of the cappa magna of the Popes (when they used to wear them)?

leo said...

When I wrote about "mourning" I referred to the last (and Pope-less) photo, as I wrote.

Nope, no papal cappae so far. I've seen one illustration in a very old book in a library once, but had no way to scan it... :-(

Anonymous said...

I found something interesting doing some research on the subject. In the book "Costume of the Prelate of the Catholic Church according to Roman Etiquette" ceremony prescribes that "Should the Papal chapel be held outside of the Pontifical Palace, etiquette would require that Cardinals wear the purple cappa magna."

Therefore, this might explain why the Cardinals are in the traditional red cappa magna in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican and the purple cappa magna outside in the Lateran!

latinmass1983 said...


Would you be able to provide the page number?

I wonder why that would be, since the Lateran is actually the Pope's church.

Anonymous said...


It was on page 96.

It is a curious question, I'll look for photos of other papal events at the Lateran and see if there aren't more purple cappa magnas!

Fr. Selvester said...

there is something else to suggest that at least the third photo (with Roncalli) and the sixth (last) photo show cardinals in "mourning". They are wearing plain linen rochets. Such plain rochets are common today but in the past rochets were almost always decorated with a large amoubnt of lace. When in mourning (and during penitential times) it was customary to lay aside the fancy lace in favor of plain linen.

Anonymous said...

In the photo of the Cardinals in the choir stalls (I believe this was the seating arrangement set up for Vatican II) eight cardinals are wearing the biretta and ten are not. Note the cardinal with hsi skullcap on sideways. I guess the non-biretta faction won that vote.

latinmass1983 said...

O.K.! As suspected, the picture of the Cardinals with their purple cappe magne and the extended train to perform the ceremonies of "Ubbidienza" was part of a CONSISTORY, which used to take place during penitential season.

Nicola De Grandi had posted the information a while ago on the link provided above and that picture (and a description of it) is part of that.

The Lateran is also called an "Apostolic/Pontifical Palace." So, Nainfa's comment would not apply to this picture.