Mantellone, soprana, croccia
The mantellone was a kind of a longer version of the mantelletta, however put on immediately on the cassock, always in the purple colour. It was made of smooth silk in the summer or, in the winter, of light cloth with the trimmings in the same colour as the rest of the robe; these could be, however, in a different shade. This garment was the indicator of one of the groups of prelates in the papal court; this is why they were called the prelates di mantellone. They were nominated on the Pope’s lifetime, however some of them were given the title for life. They could wear their dress everywhere. The exception was one of these classes of prelates called extra Urbem, which were entitled to the robe and to the designation Monsignor only outside of Rome. All accessories of the garment of the prelates di mantellone such as the biretta, the ferraiolo, the stockings or the cord on the hat were black, although the last two things could be purple outside of Rome. Formerly, the prelates di mantellone had to wear also a black clerical collar. In the beginning of the XXth century, though, they received the privilege of wearing a purple clerical collar. As the mantellone was court dress, thus when the prelates served at the altar or administered the Sacraments, they donned a surplice or a cotta on the cassock. If the prelate had the privilege of wearing the rochet, he could put it on the cassock together with the surplice or the cotta.
The soprana, the robe similar to the mantellone, but woollen and in different colours, usually in black, was worn immediately on the cassock. The privilege of wearing the soprana also had some part of Roman seminaries.
The croccia was a special garment to which the prelates di mantellone were entitled. It was put immediately on the cassock. It comprised a long robe cut on the front, tied on the neck like the mantellone, and two capes: the outer one which was shorter and the inner one – longer with a hood. In the summer version the capes were made of scarlet silk, contrary to the rest of the robe which was woollen. The exceptions were the sleeves with the lining and trimming which were made of amaranth silk. The croccia was used during a Papal Chapel and the consistory and also outside of Rome in case when the given prelate fulfilled the function of a special papal delegate who e.g. gave the biretta to a newly nominated cardinal abiding outside of Rome.
Croccia in the winter version had the outer cape made of ermine, whereas the inner one of silk – only at the bottom, in the part which protruded from the outer cape, it was embroidered with ermine. This is the remnant of the times when both capes were made of ermine.
The croccia worn by the auditors of the Roman Rota until today is a bit different from the previously described one. Purple, with red trims, it is characterised by ermine collar with a jabot and sleeves pulled tight with decorative ropes with pompons.
Also cardinals’ caudatarii had the privilege of wearing the croccia during Papal Chapels. During a Papal Chapel, when the Pope did not celebrate the Mass, train-bearers wore purple, silken cassocks with black, velvet trimmings and buttons, purple, silken sash and purple roman collar; they put on it a purple croccia made of cloth or serge, lined and trimmed with purple silk.
In the photographs of Papal Chapels one may sometimes see a black or red croccia. Unfortunately, we did not encounter any information mentioning such a dress. It may be suspected that they were caudatarii of religious cardinals or of the cardinals of certain eastern rites.
During a Papal Chapel, when the Pope celebrated and cardinals were dressed in the robes proper to their rank (dalmatics, chasubles or copes), caudatarii put cotta on the croccia; they donned also a silken veil (vimpa) with which they held the cardinal’s mitre. In ceremonies other than the Papal Chapel train-bearers put the cotta on a purple cassock when the prelate celebrated the Mass or a black ferraiolo (silken in case of cardinals), instead of the cotta, when he assisted in the cappa magna.
[English translation by Marek]