Head Coverings of Orthodox Christian Clergy
Head Coverings in General
For many centuries, head coverings in the form of hats and veils have constituted an
integral part of the normative "street dress" of the clergy of the Eastern Orthodox
Church. Differing forms of head coverings may be used in different settings depending
upon the formality of dress required. Head coverings of bishops, hieromonks and
hierodeacons follow monastic traditions that may be different from the customs observed
by priests and deacons who live in the world and serve parishes. Aside from the bishop's
miter, head coverings are not liturgical vestments properly speaking, but rather part of
the monastic or clerical "habit" (i.e. identifying dress worn outside divine services).
However, in certain settings formal head coverings may be worn by priests and deacons on
some occasions during divine services either with or without liturgical vestments. The
different ethnic traditions within the Orthodox Church have different styles and colors
of hats and differing customs as to what hats are to be worn in particular venues. The
following information seeks to set forth the general usage followed by those local
Orthodox Communions which have been strongly influenced by the modern usage of the
Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Monastic and Non-Monastic Head Coverings
On formal occasions, including services in the katholikon and meals in the trapeza,
tonsured monks wear the brimless kalymmafchion (a flat-topped, cylindrical hat made of
stiffened felt) covered by the monastic veil. On less formal occasions the monastic
kalymmafchion may be worn without the veil or be replaced by the skufos: a softer,
cylindrical hat with a flat, often pleated, top. Outside his monastery, a hieromonk or
hierodeacon may wear a brimmed kalymmafchion of the type worn by bishops as well as
married priests and deacons. In strictly informal settings (e.g. in the kitchen, the
garden, the workshop or in the cells) the monastic head covering is likely to be the
casual skufaki: a small cloth or knit cap that fits the head closely.
Traditionally, married priests and deacons have usually worn the kalymmafchion in all
settings, whether formal or informal, where the head may be covered. The form of
kalymmafchion worn by married priests and deacons (and usually by bishops as well)
incorporates a shallow brim around the upper edge and has a modest conical peak instead
of a flat top. Within the church building, the kalymmafchion without a veil is never
worn within the altar precincts nor when making an entrance through the holy doors, but
only outside the iconostasis. The kalymmafchion is removed when venerating icons or holy
relics and is removed by the priest when he reads priestly prayers (e.g. the seven lamp-
lighting prayers read before the icon of Christ during Psalm 103 at Daily Vespers). The
kalymmafchion is also always removed at the proclamation of the Gospel.
In Western lands in recent years it has become increasingly common to see married
priests and deacons wearing the skufos or even the skufaki in informal settings. It
should be carefully noted, however, that when travelling in traditional Orthodox lands
the use of the skufos or skufaki may be regarded as marking its wearer as a monk. One
should also note that it may be deemed highly inappropriate for any clergy to wear a hat
less formal than the kalymmafchion within the church building during divine services.
Clerical hats, whether monastic or non-monastic, formal or informal, are always black
Our Hat Offerings
At present we supply two styles of hats: a brimmed kalymmafchion and a cloth skufos (soft).
The brimmed kalymmafchion (Also called a kamilavkion.) This is a
formal hat suitable for wear with vestments (if the typikon of your diocese allows), with
the exorason, as well as with a zostikon and kontorason. This hat is the clerical equivalent
of your grandfather's nice felt homburg or your great-grandfather's silk top hat. It is
also the default headgear for married clergy in all situations where hats are likely to
be expected. If you are not sure what hat to wear in a particular setting, wear the
kalymmafchion-it is not possible to wear too formal a hat, though it is possible to make
a grave faux pas by wearing too informal (or too monastic) a hat on the wrong occasion.
We now have these back in stock in multiple sizes ready for immediate shipment. Price: $135 (includes shipping).
The soft cloth skufos This is an informal hat suitable for wear with
an zostikon with or without a kontorason. It is the clerical equivalent of your grandfather's
driving cap or your great-grandfather's newsboy cap. This is the least formal style of
hat likely to be worn by married clergymen. (The casual skufaki is an emphatically
monastic head covering-if the occasion is so informal that a skufaki is appropriate, a
married priest or deacon will simply remain bare-headed since a monk's skufaki is a
practical item of clothing, the equivalent of a stocking cap or gardening hat.) Price
$50.00 (includes shipping) and available for immediate shipment
To order headgear:
Please click on the Place an Order tab and provide either your hat size (US size is fine) or your hatbrim measurement in inches in the Special Instructions box.