Italian Klansmen???
April 5, 2006 4:28 AM   Subscribe

I caught The Godfather: Part III on cable last night, and I was wondering about something. There's a street parade in (I guess) New York's Little Italy in which, along with the priests and altar boys, there's these four guys in hooded robes carrying a nearly life-size figure of the Madonna and Child. The robes and hoods these four porters are wearing look exactly like Ku Klux Klan outfits, only without the sigil that's typically seen on them -- just plain white. What's the significance of these four people wearing hoods -- why would they be covered up in this fashion? Is it just coincidence that their pointy-topped hoods make them look like KKK regalia, or did the Klan copy a Roman Catholic fashion statement?
posted by pax digita to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
You're thinking of the tall pointed hoods, or capirotes, worn by members of the religious confraternities, known as Nazarenos, in procession during Holy Week in Seville and other Spanish cities.
posted by verstegan at 6:29 AM on April 5, 2006

Yep these brotherhoods are common to most southern European RC traditions including Italy and I'm sure they travelled over with the immigrants. The colour can tell you which brothehood they belong to.
I'm not sure how the KK came to use similar costume's but I'm sure somone along here will tell us shortly
posted by Wilder at 6:48 AM on April 5, 2006

Here's the obligatory Wikipedia link.
posted by sbutler at 6:52 AM on April 5, 2006

Also, considering that the KKK has very anti-Catholic orgins, I doubt the respemblence was intentional.
posted by sbutler at 6:59 AM on April 5, 2006

here is an essay, with amusing photos about the KKK.
When the Roman Catholic Church announced its intent to build the Holy Cross Abbey in CaƱon City in 1923, the Klan leaders recognized the event as a direct threat on Protestant superiority and "100% American" ideology.
posted by hortense at 8:47 AM on April 5, 2006

The Klan's symbology was codified in the late 1800's/early 1900's by men who were also mostly Masons, aka "Knights Templar" The Masons have adopted many Catholic symbols and modes of dress for their rituals and use cloth hoods and masks. The hoods used by Masons and thus by their spin off secret societies, like college fraternities and the Klan, would look similar to those used by the Italian Catholic groups mentioned.

Plus, what else would a simple cloth hood and mask look like?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:50 AM on April 5, 2006

I thought Masons were historically anti-Catholic.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:10 AM on April 5, 2006

The Klan is also now anti-mason.

Masons claim that they are the descendant organization of the ancient crusader order of the Knights Templar, who knows if it's true or not, but they therefor use a lot of those crusader knight symbols and other mediaeval-esque, catholic-like symbols (such as the Maltese Cross).
posted by Pollomacho at 9:24 AM on April 5, 2006

Pollomacho: Wrong.
posted by klangklangston at 10:15 AM on April 5, 2006

Huh? I didn't say that they really are the organizational descendants of the Knights Templar, I said they claim to be. Are you denying that the Masons claim to be Knights Templar?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:29 AM on April 5, 2006


Not only did you provide no evidence for the argument that the KKK were part of the Masonic Knights Templar, the current set of Masons a) don't claim to have anything to do with the historic Knights Templar, and b) the vast majority of masons are not Templars. The link to the Detroit Masonic is nice, but does nothing to bolster your case.
So, at best, what you had answered was misleading and ill-informed. And your reply seems to have shown that you didn't even bother to read the link that I provided.
posted by klangklangston at 11:04 AM on April 5, 2006

Klang, who cares if the they really are the actual knights or not, the fact remains that they use the name and symbols that are emotive of the knights. I'm not trying to "bolster a case" here, I'm trying to say that they use those symbols, which, they do, which should be obvious to you as the site you quote is called for christ's sake.

The masons were the very model of a secret society in the late 1800's and early 1900's when many similar groups were formed. The Klan was one of these groups and like the others it borrowed a lot of Masonic practice and imagery.

In 1923 the Klan membership in some Masonic lodges across the country was so large that the Grand Masters issued a denouncement of and disassociation with the Klan. Masons have been falsely accused of having an overt organizational connection to the Klan in the founding days (particularly Albert Pike), but most of these connections have been discredited, however a Klan handbook from the turn of the century actually used a picture of a Masonic lodge member in ceremonial dress as the example of how to dress for events and several Klan founders also happened to be Masons, John Lester in particular as well as early leaders John Brown, Joseph Fussell and Nathan Forrest. Though there is no evidence to back it up, Klan founder James Crowe claimed to be a Mason and high level Knight Templar.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:58 PM on April 5, 2006

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