Red hat ceremony blends innovation, tradition

CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING

New cardinals can buy their wardrobe at the Gammarelli tailor shop in Rome.

February 13, 2012

Something old, something new, something borrowed and something red will be present Feb. 18 when Pope Benedict creates new cardinals.

The general format of the consistory has been maintained, but the ceremony has been modified and will include prayers borrowed from ancient Roman liturgies.

Red will be the colour of the day as the new cardinals are reminded that they are called to give their lives to God and the Church, even to the point of shedding their blood.

Tradition and innovation, solemnity and festivity, high honour and a call to sacrifice are key parts of the creation of new cardinals.

The hushed moment when a churchman kneels before the pope and receives his red hat as a cardinal contrasts sharply with the mood in the Apostolic Palace that evening when anyone who wants to come is invited in to congratulate the new cardinals.

Pope Benedict will create 21 new cardinals, including Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins, in the morning during an "ordinary public consistory" in St. Peter's Basilica.

That Mass will be televised on Salt + Light TV at 2:30 a.m. (MT) on Feb. 18.

Immediately after the new cardinals are created, all the "princes of the Church" are scheduled to vote on several new saints, including Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.