Welcome to the blog

Well, it’s finally here. After years of arm-twisting, my associate editor has finally finagled me into writing a blog for The Leaven.

“Blog?” I told my editor, “I don’t have anything interesting to say. I quote interesting people. That’s my job.”

Now blogging the papal conclave from Kansas is my job, too.

Oh that Anita, she is a cunning one. Her excuse was, “Hey, for the first time in 600 years a pope resigned, and we’re having a conclave next month and all the rules are up in the air. And we’re a modern newspaper, with a website and stuff. We need a blog.”

“And besides,” she added, “I AM the boss of you.

Now that you put it that way.

The production manager Todd Habiger came to my office and set me up while I pouted and played with the keys on my Royal Number 10 Typewriter, circa 1915-ish.

The game plan for this experiment is to present interesting info nuggets about the upcoming papal conclave. It’s supposed to be a little bit informative and a little bit fun. We shall see.

Let me start off with my first informative nugget.

That little red beanie at the top of the blog? That’s not a beanie. Notice the lack of propeller on the top.

It’s a kind of skullcap called a zucchetto. It looks like a little hat that Jewish men sometimes wear, called a kipa or yarmulke.

They come in different colors, although you’ll hardly see any but red (worn by cardinals) and amaranth red (worn by bishops, archbishops, etc.). No doubt you’ve seen Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher bopping about in them.

The pope has a white zucchetto and other clergy may wear black zucchettos.

Our good friend in the archdiocesan tribunal, Father Joseph Arsenault, wears one. And I must say, he cuts quite a dashing figure in his black zucchetto and Augustinian cape. I once kidded him that since he has a cape, he ought to have superpowers. However, since he is ordained to administer the sacraments, in a certain sense he does. I think our editor Father Mark Goldasich would look great in a black zucchetto — or a big, floppy straw sombrero. Your choice.

Anyway, according to the experts at EWTN, the zucchetto once had a real purpose. Once upon a time clerics received a tonsure — a haircut that only left a ring of hair around the ol’ noggin — when they took a vow of celibacy. It got a little cool up there in the winter, hence the necessity of the zucchetto.

So now you know.