We describe a cavity-QED scheme to deterministically generate polarization entangled photon pairs by using a single atom successively coupled to two single longitudinal mode cavities presenting polarization degeneracy. The cavities are initially prepared either in the vacuum state or in a single photon Fock state for each orthogonal polarization. Sharing the same basic elements, the source can operate on different physical processes. For a V-type three-level atom initially prepared in the ground state two implementations of the source are possible using either: i) two truncated Rabi Oscillations, or ii) a counterintuitive Stimulated Raman Adiabatic Passage process. Although slower than the former implementation, this second one is very efficient and robust under fluctuations of the experimental parameters and, particularly interesting, almost insensitive to atomic decay. For a four-level atom in a diamond configuration initially prepared in the upper state, the source can produce entangled photon pairs even in the bad cavity limit via an adiabatic passage process. We have performed Monte Carlo wave function simulations to characterize these sources by means of: i) the success probability P of producing the desired entangled state, ii) the fidelity F in the reduced space of two emitted cavity photons, and iii) the S parameter of the Clauser-Horne-Shimony-Holt (CHSH) inequality to quantify the entanglement capability. © 2007 IOP Publishing Ltd.