The Cardinal's hat

Sunday, January 29, 1933, was a day to remember for the Catholics in Zwolle, especially for the parishioners of St. Michael’s Church. Never before, Joseph Drehmanns told his audience in the packed Church that evening, the hat of a cardinal - as was usually done with cardinals’s hats - was placed in a Dutch Church. Because his hometown Zwolle always had had a very special place in the Cardinal’s heart, Drehmanns was convinced that placing the hat on the pillar in front of St. Michael’s Church was the deepest wish of Van Rossum. The parish had to be aware that this was not a small gift. The hat was the most significant sign of a cardinal, showing his worthiness and his duties. As it had the form of a shepherd’s hat, it symbolized his task as a herd next to the pope, and as it was red, it symbolized the task of a cardinal to defend the true faith even with his own blood. To show its importance, the hat was placed above the arms of the cardinal. According to Drehmanns, there was nothing that showed the great worthiness of Zwolle’s son more than just this hat, which belonged to Zwolle and which was going to remain in this Church forever.

Probably, it never crossed Joseph Drehmanns’s mind that the hat’s future was going to be very different. St. Michael’s Church, once the proud Catholic beacon in the predominantly Protestant city, was demolished in 1965. The priest of the new St.
Kard. van RossumhuisMichael’s Church apparently was not interested in these gadgets of the former Great Son of Zwolle. Together with his death mask, the cardinal’s hat was moved to the ‘House of Cardinal van Rossum’, the former orphanage where Willem van Rossum spent some of his childhood’s years and which had been turned into a Catholic youth centre. A couple of years later, Zwolle’s youth centers merged and the house was rebuilt. The death mask was thrown into pieces and ended up together with the hat on a pile of waste: sic transit gloria ecclesiae.

R.J.G. Bandell, at the time supervising the merger of the youth centres, found the hat among the trash and asked the manager of the house permission to take it and keep it safe. So he did. Recently, after having finished his term as mayor of Dordrecht, Bandell moved to Rotterdam and during the removal he came across the hat once again. Being aware of Van Rossum’s religious state as a Redemptorist, he contacted the monastery in Wittem, and asked if they might be interested in receiving the hat. They were. So, thanks to mister Bandell, once again Cardinal van Rossum’s hat, now bearing the marks of its adventures, can be admired. Not in Zwolle, but in Wittem.


Design: Frank G. Bosman