When New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan was elevated to cardinal in Rome in February, he said it was an honor for all of New York, like the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty getting a red hat.
Once can find a trove of red hats at the official archives of the New York Archdiocese on the campus of St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers and the archivist, Father Michael Morris, is happy to show them.
"This biretta belonged to Cardinal Spellman, who was the Archbishop of New York from 1939 until 1967," says Morris.
Morris is still waiting to receive the official documents on Dolan's elevation from the Vatican, but that is okay because he is already plenty busy with plans to finally turn this entire building into a state of the art archives.
It was designed as an archive under Cardinal John O'Connor, but instead it has been used for classes and offices, while the historic documents and artifacts remained inside the seminary.
"Now it's Cardinal Dolan, who has a Ph.D in church history, who has a great love for history, wants to make this now like a presidential library," says Morris. "You have the public aspect, what we're in now, but also the aspects for historians as well, so for private research and for study."
The archive dates back to the late 1700s, so there is plenty to display, including an immense collection on the history of St. Patrick's Cathedral and correspondences with several U.S. presidents.
"Here's a letter that was sent by Archbishop [John] Hughes to President [Abraham] Lincoln on September 7, 1862, that’s 10 days before the Battle of Antietam," says Morris.
There's also a lot to learn. For example, before meeting the pope, pick up a zucchetto, or skullcap, at a religious store.
"You can give one to the pope, the pope will take his off and give it to you. Isn't that something?" says Morris.
From a personal standpoint, Morris says years ago it was a then-Father Dolan who encouraged him to become a priest.
If Dolan were to become pope, would the New York Archdiocese's material have to go to Rome? Morris says, "I think we'll just keep it here."
Morris hopes to have the archive ready for visitors by September.