Thomas Cardinal Collins

Sign Cardinal Collins' Guestbook

Home > Resources > Vestments & Symbols

Vestments & Symbols

When in choir dress, a Latin-rite cardinal wears scarlet vestments whose red colour symbolizes a cardinal's willingness to die for his faith. The vestments found in scarlet are: his cassock, mozzetta, zucchetto and biretta. His rochet is always in white, and while the previously mentioned items are the same for all cardinals, the rochet can differ in design and intricacies.

Choir dress:
Vestments worn by clerics for public prayer apart from the celebration of mass or when attending mass but not as a celebrant.

A short, elbow length, cape that completely encircles the prelate. It closes in the front with twelve silk-covered buttons which represent the twelve apostles.

A garment of jurisdiction which reaches below the knee made of linen, lace or linen embroidery.

A full-length, form-fitting red garment. The choir cassock used for public ceremonies of the church, is made of watered silk. 33 buttons are used to close the garment, regardless of the height of the wearer, to symbolize the 33 years Christ spent on this earth. Each sleeve has five buttons, symbolizing the five wounds of Christ.

choir dress




Cardinals wear a simar at nonliturgical functions. Black with scarlet piping, silk stitching and buttons, simars are like a cassock but have an optional elbow-length shoulder cape. A simar is worn with a scarlet sash made of silk and it may be worn with a scarlet skullcap but not with a biretta.


Unlike other vestments, the ferraiuolo (a full cape) is optional. It is scarlet watered silk that is worn at solemn, non-liturgical occasions.



When in the presence of the Pope, cardinals wear a mitre made of layered white damask silk.

A close-fitting, saucer shaped, skull cap.


A square, ridged cap worn over the zucchetto. The colour of the biretta indicates the rank of cleric. The cardinal's biretta is cardinalatial red.


To symbolize their bond with the papacy, the pope gives each newly elevated cardinal a gold ring. The rings to be received by the new cardinals on February 18 have been forged from a new design, approved by Pope Benedict XVI.
The back part of the ring represents a stylized column like those found in Saint Peter's Basilica, while the face is a basrelief in the shape of a cross. On the face are figures of Saints Peter and Paul, modeled on their statues located in front of the Basilica, representing faith and missionary proclamation. Between the two Saints, as if to illumine them, is placed an eight-pointed star, a clear reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Inside the ring, beneath the face, are the arms of Pope Benedict XVI in bas-relief.




Vestments and symbols of the Office of the Cardinal - The Catholic Register
Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals - Booklet for the Celebration -