AskDefine | Define mantelletta

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A sleeveless, knee-length vestment worn by Roman Catholic prelates.


Extensive Definition

A mantelletta, Italian diminutive of Latin mantellum 'mantle', is a sleeveless, knee-length, vest-like garment, open in front, with slits instead of sleeves on the sides, fastened at the neck, once even more common than the mozzetta.


The mantelletta is probably connected with the mantellum of the Cardinals in the "Ordo" of Gregory X (1271-1276) and with the mantellum of the Prelates in the "Ordo" of Petrus Amelius (d. 1401), which was a vestment similar to a scapular. Once upon a time, it was worn instead of the mozzetta over the rochet by any bishop outside his place of jurisdiction, as well as by cardinals (together with the mozzetta) in the City of Rome. It was likewise ordinary choir dress for several classes of monsignor, the so-called prelates di manteletta: the protonotaries apostolic de numero (the highest class of monsignor), but also included others who had been granted the privilege to wear it, including auditors of the Sacred Roman Rota and a few other high functionaries of the Vatican if they were not bishops. Certain chapters of canons have also been specifically granted the privilege.
The colour for Cardinals was ordinarily red, in penitential seasons and for times of mourning it is violet, on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays rose-colour; for the other dignitaries, the same distinctions being made, the colour was violet or black with a violet border. Cardinals and Bishops belonging to orders which have a distinctive dress, also Abbots who are entitled to wear the mantelletta, retain for it the colour of the habit of the order. The vestment is made of silk only when it is worn by cardinals or by bishops or prelates belonging to the papal court.
Under reforms enacted by Pope Paul VI and specified by an instruction of the Secretariat of State in 1969, the mantelletta was abolished for cardinals and bishops, who now wear the mozzetta when appropriate. The violet mantelletta is no longer used except by a handful of prelates who reside in Rome, primarily the seven remaining Apostolic Protonotaries de numero and a few superior prelates of the offices of the Roman Curia if they are not bishops. It is now effectively a garment of the diocese of Rome; other monsignors do not use it. According to Noonan, the proper color of the mantelletta for chapters of canons who still wear it is grey or black with colored trim.


The mantellone differed from the mantelletta by being longer (reaching to the floor) and having wing-like sleeves. The mantellone was formerly used by prelates of the lowest rank, the papal chamberlain (now called "Chaplain of His Holiness"). It was abolished by Pope Paul VI.
In the Instruction of April 17, 1969, the mantellone formerly used by honorary prelates (monsignors of the middle rank) is referred to as a mantellella. This was likewise abolished.

Sources and references

  • The Church Visible: The Ceremonial Life and Protocol of the Roman Catholic Church
  • Paul VI. "On the Papal Household." On the Papal Household, Reform of the Use of Pontifical Insignia, Simplification of Pontifical Rites and Insignia. Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1968.
  • "Instruction on the dress, titles and coat-of-arms of cardinals, bishops and lesser prelates." L'Osservatore Romano, English ed. 17 Apr. 1969: 4. ISSN 0391-668X. Online at

External links

mantelletta in Italian: Mantelletta (cattolicesimo)
mantelletta in Polish: Mantolet
mantelletta in Spanish: Mantelete
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