It recently came to the attention of Pope Francis that young seminarians in Rome are often admitted to studies by old men who like the young men that have a lot in common with their old man outlook, and not much in common with their peers. Benedict XVI appointed a lot of conservative bishops, and three of the four ornery Cardinals. But who am I to judge?
One particular young old man had wrapped himself in a cape, sans luminescent vampire teeth, apparently very unaware that people these days don’t go out in public like that when they aren’t starring as the eponymous Phantom of the Opera. Much has been done by the Preening Pimp of Petty Pomps to see that our current and future inadequate priests have all the appropriate garments for their station in life, and several inappropriate ones, too. So when the pope took umbrage at non-superheroes wearing capes, the 4P’s umbrage began to supply Cappella Romanos for Clerics. Deaconette thanks him for making the heads of so many poor priests warm this winter. Don’t forget we deacons, now.
Deaconette sympathizes with Pope Francis, who is quite right that we clerics ought not go about in capes with silver clasps unless we have just been given the sad news of Mother’s death and if also our name is Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales. But on the other hand, Deaconette has different fingers. She understands the poor young (future?) inadequate priest needed a warm way to dress when it’s chilly out. While a puffy Triple Fat Goose Chenega is suitably upscale and black, it just doesn’t pair well with simar or soutane. Wrinkles the sleeves and the skirt kind of rides up, you know?
Fortunately somebody long ago recognized this problem and came up with a more modern solution for cassock-based outerwear. Meet the “greca,” or as it is more properly known by the fine Parisians who invented this clerical couture statement, “le douillette.” Deaconette has located a helpful English tailor who makes these things for the nattily attired North American Collegian, and who provides a helpful description:
The greca is a clerical double-breasted overcoat worn over the cassock. The greca is of slightly longer length than the cassock so as to entirely cover it.
The greca is black, except in the case of the Pope who wears a white greca. The black greca may have either a plain or velvet collar. The greca is usually worn in place of the mantello, the clerical ankle-length cloak, with or without shoulder cape, worn over the cassock.
The greca came into the Roman Church through France, was adapted from civil wear for the [needs of the] clergy in 1812, and has changed little since.
The douillette came to be called a “greca,” the Italian word for “Greek,” as it reminded Roman clergy of the long black overcoat worn by Eastern priests.
There now. Perhaps not the same excitement generated by tying one’s blanket around one’s shoulders and saying “up, up and away!” but it is a special clerical garment just for special clericalists, and Pope Francis won’t make one the butt of a joke in his ferverinos for wearing it. After all, he has one of his own.
Now Deaconette most certainly does not want any of our devoted scholars to be cold while traversing the harsh, unforgiving climate of the Eternal City in search of a caffe doppio and a Bigne di San Giuseppe to warm their icy hearts fingers. So as mentioned earlier, she tracked down a tailor in the northeast of England who sews these greca garments to any bespoke measurements required. They are a bit pricey at £699, but with favorable exchange rates since Brexit and the no-additional-charge policy for the velvet collar trimming, this seems like the best bargain to be had.
If you are seminarian in need of such a thing, Deaconette and her gentle readership understand that they may be beyond your limited means. Dear readers, if it is within your power to treat a seminarian, deacon, priest or bishop to a warm winter douillette, won’t you in your charity assist by doing the right thing and clicking on the clarion call below?
No, that destination is not a joke. Some small people really do need overcoats very badly this winter. Deaconette has no trouble believing in the smallness of the clergy, but believing that they don’t have winter coats is a bit of stretch for her. If her gentle readers have the wherewithal to help those who actually need help, Deaconette hopes that they will.
As for the disappointed: Deaconette C must not have said it clearly enough up to now, so here it is one more time, said loudly in her patented pink:
Special clothing does not confer dignity nor religious authority. A transparent soul does. Take a tip from our separated brethren and look up “weighty Quaker.” Robing one’s body in the raiment of a bygone era doesn’t make one symbolically nor spiritually important to one’s flock, and it especially does not to those one should be bringing into that flock. It instead makes one appear both utterly ridiculous and unapproachable to them. If one is lucky enough to have warm clothing, one is lucky enough. Fantasizing about clerical attire is beyond a waste of your time. Let your imagination instead run wild on a winter where no one dies of hypothermia on a city street lined with heated buildings that have stocked kitchens inside. Spread the Good News of the Man who had nowhere to lay his head instead of caring about what’s on top of yours. Get the inside of your cup clean. If the day comes when one needs a ferrolione to divorce dollars from donors, one will be surprised at how easily it appears in the wardrobe without time spent thinking about it. If that day doesn’t come and one is still all hung up on capes, perhaps one’s vocation is not to priesthood but to Jedi knighthood.
Through the intercession of St. Joan of Arc, patron saint of those who never wonder if it’s getting a little chilly in here, may you be kept from cold this winter and find an abundance of warmth to share with others, in the Name ✠ of the Creator and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier. Amen.