Scandal in Rome: a cleric seen wearing a soup-plate hat!

As soon as Matins were finished, after a night spent practising the harshest of penances, our new Savonarola goes down to the chapel in Santa Marta. Emaciated by fasting, his countenance very severe, in the extreme cold of mid-winter just as in the extreme heat of the dog days of the Roman summer, this scourge of the dissolute prepares to offer the most holy Sacrifice of the Mass surrounded by a few chosen people wishing to listen to his sacred words.

In the half-light of the chapel, which still smells of wax and incense, one can barely make out the footsteps of a passing prelate, the hushed whispers of a few pious nuns, the faint tick-tock of the clock in the sacristy as he goes up to the altar preceded by two Monsignors wearing their cottas. Mass is said in absolute silence, while the attendants pray their Beads and an elderly Cardinal recites his Breviary, his lips moving silently and the tail of his soutane gathered in.

After reading the Gospel and kissing the sacred Missal, the pious old man takes off his maniple, genuflects at the foot of the altar for a short prayer, then turns to the faithful to preach his fervorino:

An old Monsignor in the Roman Curia, a man who works very hard, an ordinary man, who loves Our Lord very much, came to me yesterday and told me that he had been to the Euroclero shop where he had seen a young man standing in front of the mirror. He says he could not have been any more than twenty-five years of age, a young priest or a man who was about to be ordained priest. In front of the mirror, wearing a very long and voluminous black velvet cloak with silver fastenings, looking at himself in the mirror. He took his soup-plate hat, put it on, and looked at himself in the mirror: how extremely worldly was this scene?

A murmur of disapproval ran around the chapel, the starched veils of the Sisters of Charity fluttered in consternation, the Breviary of the old Cardinal fell to the ground and all its holy pictures came out.

It is not difficult to understand how, in the composure required by the place and in the presence of that august Celebrant, his words caused such bewilderment in the God-fearing souls of the bystanders.

The days are long gone when indulgence could be shown to members of the Papal Court, and looseness of morals was widespread throughout the Caput Mundi. Since our Holy Lord, the Vicar of Christ, deigned to publish his great Bull Terribilis castitatis munus, there has been a widespread blooming of vocations, an increase in apostolic zeal, and a return to the more faithful observance of the Holy Rule in Mendicant Orders. Those in the Roman Curia now compete to see who can be more faithful to true doctrine, more sober in ascetics, more holy in their life.

Very few can remember the times when sacred functions were desecrated by impious and sacrilegious people initiated into the worst heresies and wearing shameful vestments. Now the best craftsmen sculpt the finest chalices and monstrances, cloistered sisters sew the finest jewels onto fiddle-back chasubles and copes. The hands of experts design and make elegant cassocks, onto which they sew fringes of silk like the fascias which they make with pride and the tassels on their soup-plate hats. As part of their Laus Perennis, devout Monks copy out antiphonaries and missals. Throngs of young people compete in their devotion to see who will have the honour to be called into the presbytery, or intone the notes of restored plainsong, the purest melodies of Pierluigi Palestrina or Father Tomas Luis de Victoria of the Oratory.

The Supreme Pontiff himself, sitting upon his sedia gestatoria, look down upon the thronged multitudes as his sacred person is carried by on his way to pontificate at one of the Roman Basilicas where he is the very model of virtue, not only to his devout children who venerate him in the name of Christ, but also to the multitudes of those who have been touched by divine grace and have abandoned the darkness of idolatry before being washed in the purifying waters of Holy Baptism to be accepted into the heart of the mystical Body of Christ as soon as they have repudiated their heresy and schism.

There are, it is true, those unfortunates who indulge in vice and in sin, and the cutting remarks of Apostolic Justice - expressed in the words of our Holy Father - are always very severe against them, although mercy and pardon will always be available to them as soon as they repent.

And yet, how can we not be scandalised, one wonders, when one hears tales such as that of the young Levite who, like Narcissus before him, gazed so fondly at his own reflection in an ecclesiastical tailor’s shop? How can we not feel pain upon learning about a poor man who, far from wearing the proper ecclesiastical clothing as set out by the Roman Synod in 2016, dares to put on the proper attire of a Monsignor or a Bishop? How can we fail to understand the scorn of the Pontiff who has to admonish him by exclaiming Serve nequam? Within the very walls of the eternal city he abandoned himself to the most sybaritic of vices by daring to put upon his head the Roman hat! Nor did he remember to cover his Sacred Tonsure with a obligatory skull-cap...

What an abyss of foulness there must be in the heart of such a reprobate! What a den of vice must his soul be with such open contempt for the Sacred Canons by appearing without the proper head covering and – even worse – daring to the wear silver clasps of a Monsignor on his heavy cloak? What a hellish chasm must open wide under his feet as soon as he committed such an open gesture of scandalous slackness by looking at himself in that mirror!

He must be sent immediately to be shut up with those villains in the dark prisons of Castel Sant'Angelo who appeared in choir with no biretta or whose ferraiolo was too short for them in the Vicariate. He will surely be sentenced to a strict diet of bread and water as a warning against the same spirit of anarchy and rebellion which was seen after the Roman Conventicle but which have now disappeared after the terrible excommunications ordered by the Reigning Pontiff and the strict discipline laid down by our holy Bishops.

In the deeply moving silence of the chapel, the old man goes back to take his maniple off the Missal, and goes to the middle of the Altar, where he continues with the Divine Sacrifice and turns to the faithful to say: Dominus vobiscum.


Italian translation here

Soup-plate hats (so called "cappello romano" or "saturnio") can be purchased at Cappelleria Melegari in Milan ( 


  1. Il nuovo Savonarola, uhhhhhmmmmm, dunque celebra messa in S.Marta, ma io di scarni ed emaciati per digiuni penitenziali da quelle parti devo ancora this a dream or a nightmare? Et cum spiritu tuo.


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