CHAPTER VI. Heraldry. part 2.
11. Around the escutcheon are placed the different marks or insignia of dignity, which characterize the rank of the Prelate, both civil and ecclesiastical, such as, pontifical hat, cross, crosier, mitre, decorations of Orders, etc.
A very ancient and almost universal custom allows Prelates, who are in possession of a title of nobility, to place over the shield and under the hat the coronet, which symbolizes their title. (a)
However, as the cardinalitial dignity is considered superior to any other save the Papal and royal, etiquette forbids Cardinals to place over their shields any insignia of a secular rank. (b) As marks of their eminent dignity, Cardinals place over their shields the pontifical red hat, (c) with its scarlet strings, tastefully intertwined, symmetrically hanging on each side of the shield, and ending with fifteen tassels disposed in five rows. If the Cardinal is invested with the episcopal character, he places behind the shield a gold cross, the foot of which is visible at the bottom of the shield, and the arms and head over it. If the Cardinal is, or was, an Archbishop, custom allows him to place there a double-armed cross.
This cross is not an ornament fixed on the top of the shield, but it is supposed to represent the cross which is borne before an Archbishop in processions, and should be designed as placed behind the shield. When the shield is colored, the cross is painted in gold.
Formerly, this double cross was the proper mark of the Patriarchal dignity, and Archbishops placed behind their shields an ordinary processional cross of gold, while Bishops—who do not make use of the cross in processions and liturgical functions—did not place it in their bearings. But about the seventeenth century, Archbishops began to place in their arms the double cross; and Bishops, the ordinary cross which was hitherto reserved for Archbishops. This practice has now become universal. It is to be noted, however, that the double cross, with which Archbishops "timber" their arms, does not signify that they possess the right of having such a cross carried before them in processions. The cross which is borne before a Metropolitan Archbishop does not differ in shape from the ordinary processional cross; and Archbishops, who are not Metropolitans, though privileged to timber their arms with the double cross, do not make use of the archiepiscopal cross in liturgical functions. (d)
The arms of a Patriarch are timbered with the double cross and the green pontifical hat, with its strings terminating in fifteen tassels on each side, disposed in five rows. (e)
The arms of an Archbishop are the same as a Patriarch's; but the green Pontifical hat has only ten tassels on each side, disposed in four rows. Under the hat, and passed behind the shield, is seen the double cross, now a sign of the archiepiscopal dignity.
Bishops place behind their shields an ordinary processional cross of gold, surmounted by the green pontifical hat, with its green strings, each terminating in six tassels, disposed in three rows. (f)
The Prelates of the Roman Court who are not invested with the episcopal character are not entitled to timber their arms with the cross or with the mitre, though they may have the privilege of wearing the latter during certain ceremonies; but they are free to place over the shield the coronet significative of their title of nobility (if they have one), and, at any Arms of an Archbishop. rate, the pontifical hat of the same shape and with the same strings and tassels as that of Prelates belonging to the episcopal order, the color, however, being different.
The four Prelates di fiochetti —the Vice-Camerlengo of the Roman Church, the Auditor-General of the Reverend Apostolic Camera, the Treasurer-General of the Reverend Apostolic Camera, and the Majordomo of His Holiness—are privileged to place over their shields a purple pontifical hat, with rose-colored, or, rather, amaranth red, strings, each ending in ten tassels of the same color, disposed like those of the Archbishop's hat.
Protonotaries Apostolic have the privilege of the same purple hat, with the same red strings and tassels, but the tassels are only six in number on each side, and disposed in three rows.
The other Prelates timber their arms with a purple pontifical hat, from which hang two purple strings, each ending with only six tassels of the same color, disposed in three rows like those of the Bishop's hat.
"Black Protonotaries," Vicars General, Abbots, Superiors General of Religious Orders and Congregations, and all priests having a permanent and extensive ordinary jurisdiction, timber their escutcheons with a hat of the same shape and with the same strings and tassels as that of Bishops and Prelates; but, the hat, its strings and its tassels are black, even when the religious habit of the dignitary is of a different color.
The hat which the Prelates di mantellone should place over their arms is purple, with purple strings ending in three tassels disposed in two rows. Often they place over their arms the same hat as the Prelates di mantelletta, but such practice is not in accordance with the present rules of etiquette.
Outside of Italy, there is a very general practice which consists in placing above the shield of Archbishops, Bishops and Abbots, the crosier and the mitre. This practice is nearly universal, and is even more ancient than the regulation about the pontifical hat. When, in the sixteenth century, the Roman practice of placing the pontifical hat above the shield became general, the old custom was retained, inasmuch as the pontifical hat was placed above the mitre and crosier. Anglican Bishops, having separated themselves from the Roman Church before the use of the pontifical hat in armorial bearings became general, never adopted it, and still today timber their arms with a mitre, adding sometimes a crosier and a key.
(a) The Roman usage Is to put no other mark of dignity than the hat and the cross; but there Is no text of law or ceremonial opposed to the practice of placing a crown over the ecclesiastical shield. A prohibition exists for Cardinals only.
(b) The bull Militantis Ecclesiae of Innocent X. (A. D. 1644) forbids Cardinals to make use of secular Insignia in decorating their arms. When they receive the red hat, the newly-appointed Cardinals take an oath of obedience to that law. Many dispensations have been given, especially to Cardinals belonging to royal families, who were desirous of keeping over their shields the Insignia of "princes of the royal blood also to Cardinals who were "princes of the Holy Roman Empire."
(c) This hat must be of the pontifical form, that is large, with a low crown and flat brim. Designers and engravers should take care that it be in proportion with the dimensions of the shield, so as to constitute a well balanced design. The same remark applies to the hats placed over the shield of Bishops and other Prelates, for heraldic hats do not differ in form, but only in color and in the number of their tassels.
(d) Another difference between the heraldic cross and the cross carried before a Metropolitan is that the former does not bear the figure of our Lord, while the latter Is a "crucifix."
(e)This is the newly-accepted etiquette on this point Up to these last years, Patriarchs placed over their shields the same hat as Archbishops. The Patriarch of Lisbon places the tiara over his shield, but not the keys, which belong exclusively to the Pope; and even the reasons given by the Patriarchs of Lisbon for their assumption of the tiara fail to find support among historians.
(f) The "Regent of the Chancery," though not invested with the episcopal character, has the privilege of placing over his shield a green hat similar to that of a Bishop; but since he is not Bishop, he does not place the cross behind his shield.