by Anura Guruge
Template for a cardinal's coat of arms showing 15-tasseled galero at top
Louis Epstein send me this link to a tantalizing picture of the 62-year old, U.S. cardinal, My Lord Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, created a cardinal deacon at the last cardinal-creating consistory [i.e., November 20, 2010] wearing a galero and lot of red moiré (though the picture doesn’t do it justice and makes it look like he is wearing a plastic poncho to keep out the rain). It is, nonetheless, a worthy, inspiring picture of piety and purposefulness.
The galero, in the context of cardinals came into use as of 1245 with Innocent IV (#181) at the First Council of Lyon [France]. It was part of the all red regalia prescribed for cardinals, by that pope, supposedly to signify their willingness to shed their blood in defense of the Church — this having been a time rife with imperial conflict and crusading initiatives. Furthermore, in the short-term, the red garbs, with the broad-brimmed, betasseled galero, ensured that the cardinals would stand-out (as the pope’s chosen) during all of the ceremonies, processions and gatherings that took place during the 6-week long Council. [It is said that, particularly around Lyon, that the pope got the idea for the ‘red’ when he saw the distinctive red hats then worn by the Canons of Lyon.]
A dusty galero suspended above a cardinal's tomb (name of the cardinal not known)
To begin with the galero symbolized a crown — befitting the status of the cardinals as the ‘Princes of the Church.’
The galero used to be bestowed upon newly created cardinals by the pope at their first consistory. This no longer happens, with a red biretta (and zuchetto) used instead. It is said that cardinals stopped wearing galeros as of 1870, as sign of mourning, at the loss of the Papal States.
In 1969, post Vatican II, a papal decree formalized the the practice of cardinals not receiving a galero when created — deeming that it was too elaborate and would detract with people identifying with their lord cardinal.
However, cardinals have the right to have a galero made so that it can be displayed in their home cathedral. There is also a tradition that a galero, paid for by the congregation, is hung above a late cardinal’s tomb. In theory the galero remains suspended until it disintegrates and falls apart, in time. When it finally falls from its perch, due to decay, it is supposed to indicate that the cardinal’s soul has entered heaven. [There is no mention whether it is permissible to infuse chemicals into the inner material of the galero to accelerate or retard the decay. Also occurred to me as I was inserting the second image … was this the genesis for the pinata, in my mind, Mexico’s greatest contribution to the World.]
Also check this link for more pictures and information on galeros as well as Lord Cardinal Burke wearing one.