Real men wear pink

, Last Updated: 2:55 PM ET

Though there are many rules governing vestments in the Catholic Church -- only the Pope is allowed to wear velvet -- there is still some degree of flexibility in design.

For a wedding ceremony, a chasuble (long gown) with decorative multi-colour tapestry orphrey (front panel) may perfectly tie together the church and priest with the colours of the wedding party."

Cooper agrees that like the fashion world, what goes around comes around. "Some of the older priests today are happy to see the younger ones embracing earlier styles such as the cassock (belted robe) and biretta (pointed square cap) that were commonly worn prior to the 1960s."

Cooper says of all the liturgical colours, the one called "rose" -- worn two Sundays in a year -- prompts the strongest reaction. "Some priests just don't like to wear pink."

He recalls one very tall and slim pastor from western Iowa "who showed us his 'pink' vestment," commenting, "All I need are rabbit slippers."

ZUCCHETTO or SKULL CAP

Priests who would shave their heads leaving only a ring of hair around the head, called a "tonsure," wore a "zucchetto" or "skull cap" to protect the bare skin.

Pope John Paul blesses the faithful during his weekly audience at the Vatican wearing a white zucchetto, white silk simar and fascia with insignia -- appropriate papal vestures for formal use outside of the mass.

SIMAR

A simar is a caped-cloak which became an official vesture in 1872. Traditionally, the simar has 33 buttons down the front representing the number of earthly years of Christ's life. There are five buttons on the cuffs representing the five wounds of Christ.

FASCIA

Or cincture, is a linen or silk rope, with knots, tassels or tufts at each end used to bind the alb (white gown worn at the altar). Only the Pope is allowed to wear insignia (papal arms in full-colour representation, trimmed with gold fringe).


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