Using a regular (everyday) cassock:
– the Pope wears white; during summer cassock is made of satin, in winter – of cloth;
– a cardinal’s cassock is black, woollen; accessories and the trimmings are scarlet, made of silk;
– archbishops, bishops and prelates di mantelletta wear black, woollen cassocks as well, but the trim is made of amaranth silk, while prelates di mantellone – of purple–violet silk;
– the religous cardinals wear cassocks (both regular and choir ones) in the same colour as their habit;
– it has been accepted that all church dignitaries (apart from the Pope and religious prelates) in their private time can wear regular, black cassocks.
During the festive ecclesiastical ceremonies, one wore the choir cassocks which could differ from the regular ones in the question of colour, fabric and, first and foremost, the presence of a train. Caudae (tails) in this kind of robes unfortunately were abolished by Pope Pius the XII.
The papal choir cassock was made of watered silk.
Cardinal’s choir dress could be worn in three colours: red, purple in penitential and mourning times, and pink, used during Laetare and Gaudete Sundays. The material one used was moire in the summertime and cloth during the winter, with the exception of pink cassocks where wateres silk was always used.
Episcopal cassocks were made of cloth for the winter time, whereas for the summer they were made of merino wool. The Assistants at the Pontifical Throne residing in Rome were exceptions – as we already know, they wore silk then. Episcopal choir cassocks were in two colours: purple and black with purple trimmings (during penitential and mourning times), but, of course, both had trains. However, if a bishop was in Rome, he would wear the black choir cassock only during the sede vacante or on Good Friday.
Religious cardinals and bishops could wear cassocks as their choir dress but in the colour which corresponded to that of their order, and with silk used only for the accessories.
The prelates di mantelletta, because they belonged to the papal court, wore purple everywhere: silk in summer, cloth in winter. Besides to their choir cassocks the same rules applied as to the bishop’s one, but the mourning periods were only Good Friday and the sede vacante. The prelates di mantellone had a choir cassock without a train made of materials and in the similar colour as prelates di mantelletta had, but with purple trim.
The zimarra (eng. the simar) is a garment which is very similar to the everyday cassock, but it has double sleeves (the shorter ones are fastened by a row of buttons) and a short cape (sometimes called pellegrina).
The zimarra for the successive ranks in the Church hierarchy is similar to the cassock in terms of colour:
– for cardinals: a black one, with scarlet trimmings;
– for archbishops, bishops and the prelates di mantelletta: a black one, with amaranth trim, and a black one with purple trimmings during the penitential and mourning times;
– for the prelates di mantellone: a black one, with purple trim.
In the case of religious prelates‘ zimarra the same rules applied as to the cassocks: they were worn in the colour corresponding to the colour of the monastic habit. Because of practical matters, in private use there were also black zimarras but with trimmings in the appropriate colour.
The privilege of wearing all black zimarra was granted, among others, to vicars general or rectors of seminaries.
[English translation by Dorota]