Vestments: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to Vestment article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clergy of various ranks in vestments celebrating Mass according to the Neo-Gallican Rite of Versailles Elevation of the chalice.

Vestments are liturgical garments and articles associated primarily with the Christian religion, especially among Latin Rite and other Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Methodists, and Lutherans. Many other groups also make use of vestments, but this was a point of controversy in the Protestant Reformation and sometimes since - notably during the Ritualist controversies in England in the 19th century.

For other garments worn by clergy, see also clerical clothing.


Rubrics for vesting

The rubrics (regulations) for the type of vestments to be worn vary between the various communions and denominations. In some, clergy are directed to wear special clerical clothing in public at all, most, or some times. This generally consists of a clerical collar, clergy shirt, and (on certain occasions) a cassock. In the case of members of religious orders, non-liturgical wear includes a religious habit. This ordinary wear does not constitute liturgical vestment, but simply acts as a medium of identifying the wearer as a member of the clergy or a religious order.

A distinction is often made between the type of vestment worn for Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion and that worn for other services. Non-Eucharistic vestments are typically referred to as "choir dress" or "choir habit", in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches, because they are worn for the chanting of the Daily Office, which, in the West, takes place in the choir rather than the sanctuary. In other traditions, there is no specific name for this attire, although it often takes the form of a Geneva gown worn with or without preaching bands and a stole or preaching scarf.

In the more ancient traditions, each vestment—or at least the stole—will have a cross on it, which the clergy kiss before putting it on. A number of churches also have special vesting prayers which are recited before putting each vestment on, especially the Eucharistic vestments.

Latin Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Protestant vestments

For the Eucharist, each vestment symbolizes a spiritual dimension of the priesthood, with roots in the very origins of the Church. In some measure these vestments harken to the Roman roots of the Western Church.

Use of the following vestments varies. Some are used by all Western Christians in liturgical traditions. Many are used only in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, and there is much variation within each of those churches.


Used only by Protestants

This Lutheran pastor is wearing a Geneva gown
Geneva gown, also known as a pulpit robe 
A simple vestment with open, wide, and bell-shaped sleeves. Geneva gowns are usually black.

Used by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and some other Protestants

an item of clerical clothing; a long, close-fitting, ankle-length robe worn by clerics of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and some Reformed churches.
A long, narrow strip of cloth draped around the neck, a vestment of distinction, a symbol of ordination. Deacons wear it draped across the left shoulder diagonally across the body to the right hip while priests and bishops wear it draped around the back of the neck. It may be crossed in the front and secured with the cincture. Traditionally, this is done by priests, whereas bishops always wear it uncrossed, as they possess the fullness of the priesthood. Corresponds to the Orthodox orarion and epitrachelion (see below).
The common garment of any ministers at the eucharist, worn over a cassock. Most closely corresponds to the Orthodox sticharion (see below). Symbolizes baptismal garment. See also cassock-alb.
or cassalb is a relatively modern garment and is a combination of the traditional cassock and alb. It developed as a convenient undergarment (or alternative to a cassock at the Eucharist) worn by clergy and as an alternative to the alb for deacons and acolytes.
A white or off-white cassock-alb has replaced the traditional cassock and alb in some Anglican and Lutheran churches since the 1970s. On rules concerning its use, see The Church Times.
Pectoral cross 
A large cross worn on a chain or necklace around the neck by clergy of many Christian denominations. In some traditions it is associated with bishops. In the Roman Catholic tradition it is only worn by bishops. In choir dress the cross is gold with a green rope, red for cardinals. In house dress, it is silver with a silver chain.

Used by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and some (American) United Methodists

A decorative white tunic worn over the cassock.
The outermost sacramental garment of priests and bishops, often quite decorated. It is only worn for the celebration of the Eucharist. Corresponds to the Orthodox phelonion (see below). See also chasuble-alb.
The outermost garment of deacons.
a cloth around the neck used to cover the collar of street attire. It is worn by the celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon for the Mass.
or Girdle. Corresponds to the Orthodox zone.

Used by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and some Lutherans

The outermost garment of subdeacons.
A circular cape reaching to the ankle, used by bishops, priests and deacons.
Similar to a surplice but with narrower sleeves. It is usually highly decorated with lace. Its use is reserved to bishops and certain canons.
Skull cap, similar to the Jewish yarmulke.
Worn by Bishops and some abbots. Despite the having the same name, this does not really correspond with the Eastern mitre (see below), which has a distinct history and which was adopted much later.
Pectoral cross 
The cross or crucifix worn by bishops. It is held by a chain (or cord in choir dress) around the neck and rests on the chest.

Used by some Roman Catholics and some Anglicans and Lutherans

A liturgical handkerchief bound about the wrist, it is only used during the Mass. The maniple fell out of common use with the 1970 post conciliar liturgical reform, but is gaining in popularity in many circles and is used today in the context of the Tridentine Mass and in some Anglo-Catholic and other parishes. According to some authorities, this corresponds to the Orthodox epigonation (see below).
Humeral veil 
Long cloth rectangle draped around the shoulders and used to cover the hands of the priest when carrying the monstrance. It is also worn by the subdeacon when holding the paten.
May be worn by clergy of all ranks except the Pope; its color can signify rank.

Used only by Roman Catholics

A narrow band of lamb's wool decorated with six black crosses, worn about the neck with short pendants front and back, worn by the Pope and bestowed by him to Metropolitan bishops and Archbishops. Corresponds to the Orthodox omophorion (see below).
An episcopal humeral worn over the chasuble. It is only used by the Bishops of Eichstätt, Paderborn, Toul, and Cracow (Kraków). Until the 17th century, it was also in use in the Bishopric of Regensburg (Ratisbon). [1]
Pontifical gloves 
The liturgical gloves worn by a bishop celebrating a Pontifical Solemn Mass. They are usually seen today only within the context of the Tridentine Mass.
Pontifical sandals 
The liturgical sandals worn by a bishop celebrating a Pontifical Solemn Mass. They are usually covered by the liturgical stockings, which are of the liturgical color of the Mass. They are usually seen today only within the context of the Tridentine Mass.
A double-layered mozzetta, now only occasionally worn by the Pope during solemn Pontifical High Masses.
Papal tiara 
Formerly worn by the Pope at his coronation and at key secular moments; it has fallen out of use but may be revived at any time if the reigning Pontiff wishes. This is strictly speaking not a vestment but an item of regalia since it was never worn within liturgical services with the exception of the blessing Urbi et Orbi.
A vestment similar to a broad maniple but worn suspended from the right side of the cincture, decorated with a cross on one end and an agnus dei on the other; worn only by the Pope during a Pontifical High Mass.
A vestment that forms a long skirt extending from under the hem of the alb; it is so long that train-bearers need to carry it; worn only by the Pope during a Pontifical High Mass and draped over the Pope's body at a Papal Funeral.

Used only by Anglicans

(or Preaching Scarf). Black scarf worn by bishop, priests and deacons at choir offices and other non-sacramental services.
Red or black outer garment of bishops. Resembles a knee-length, open-front waist coat.
Academic hood is usually worn by Anglican clergy at choir offices. It is also sometimes worn by Methodists and Reformed clergy with an Academic Gown ("Geneva Gown"), though this is fairly rare.
A short cassock reaching just above the knee, worn by archdeacons (for whom it is black) and bishops (for whom it is purple). Now largely obsolete.
Covering of the lower leg worn by archdeacons and bishops with the apron. Black, buttoned up the sides, and worn to just below the knee. Like the apron, these, too, are largely obsolete.
Canterbury cap 
a soft, square-shaped hat.

Eastern Church vestments

Icon of St. Gregory the Illuminator wearing the omophorion, a type of phelonion worn by bishops called the polystavrion, epigonation, epitrachelion and sticharion (fourteenth century fresco, Mistras).
Archbishop John (Maximovich) wearing an episcopal mantle.

In the Orthodox Church, any member of the clergy, of whatever rank, will be vested when serving his particular function during the Divine Liturgy or other service. Eastern Catholics use identical vestments as their Orthodox counterparts. As in the Latin-rite Catholic Church, the use of vestments is rooted in the early history of the church. The various vestments serve several different functions. The three forms of stole (Orarion, Epitrachelion, and Omophorion) are marks of rank. The three outer garments (Sticharion, Phelonion, and Sakkos) serve to distinguish the clergy from the laity. Some are practical (Zone and Epimanikia), holding the other vestments in place. Some (Nabedrennik and Epigonation) are awards of distinction.

In addition to these functions, most vestments carry a symbolic meaning as well. These symbolic meanings are often indicated by the prayer that the priest says as he puts each item on. These prayers are verses taken directly from the Old Testament, usually the Psalms. For example, the prayer for the Sticharion is from Isaiah 61:10:

My soul will rejoice in the Lord, for he has clothed me with a garment of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of gladness; he has placed a crown on my head as on a bridegroom, and adorned me with beauty as a bride. [2]
Sticharion (Greek στιχάριον
Actually a form of the garment worn at baptism, this is the one vestment worn by all clergy. Though against Church canons, it is even used by non-ordained persons carrying out a liturgical function, such as an "altar boy". For priests and bishops, it is made of lightweight material, usually white. It corresponds most closely with the Western alb (see above).
Orarion (Greek ὀράριον
A long narrow strip of cloth worn by deacons over the left shoulder and reaching to the ankle in both front and back. It is also worn by subdeacons and, in some places of the Greek tradition, by tonsured altar servers. It corresponds to the Western stole (see above).
Epitrachelion (Greek ἐπιτραχήλιον, "over the neck") 
This stole is worn by priests and bishops as the symbol of their priesthood. It is worn around the neck with the two adjacent sides sewn or buttoned together, leaving enough space through which to place the head. It corresponds to the Western stole (see above).
Epimanikia (Greek ἐπιμανίκια
Cuffs bound with laces. The deacon wears them beneath the sticharion, priests and bishops above. They are not used by any lower rank.
Zone (Greek ζώνη) 
Cloth belt worn by priests and bishops over the epitrachelion. Corresponds to the Western cincture (see above).
Phelonion (Greek φαιλόνιον or φελόνιον
Large conical sleeveless garment worn by priests over all other vestments, with the front largely cut away to free the hands. Byzantine rite Bishops may also wear the phelonion when not serving according to hierarchical rubrics. Corresponds to the Western chasuble (see above).
Sakkos (Greek σάκκος) 
Instead of the phelonion, the bishop usually wears the sakkos or Imperial dalmatic. This is a tunic reaching below the knees with wide sleeves and a distinctive pattern of trim. It is always buttoned up the sides.
Nabedrennik (Slavonic набедренникъ) 
A square or rectangular cloth suspended on the right side by two adjacent corners from a strap drawn over the left shoulder. This is a relatively recent Russian invention and is not used in the Greek tradition. It is an award, so it is not worn by all priests. Bishops do not use it.
Epigonation/Palitsa (Greek ἐπιγονάτιον "over the knee"; Slavonic палица, "club") 
A stiff diamond-shaped cloth that hangs on the right side of the body; it is suspended by one corner from a strap drawn over the left shoulder. It is worn by all bishops and as an award for priests.
Omophorion (Greek ὠμοφόριον
This is the distinctive episcopal vestment, a wide cloth band draped about the shoulders in a characteristic manner. It corresponds to the Western pallium (see above).
Mitre (Greek Μίτρα
The Byzantine Orthodox mitre is modeled on the ancient Byzantine imperial crown; it is worn by all bishops and in some Slavic traditions also awarded to some high-ranking priests. The bishop's mitre is surmounted by a cross, but the priest's is not; both are bulbous and adorned with icons. Coptic Orthodox & Ethiopian Orthodox bishops also wear the Byzantine mitre. Armenian Orthodox, on the other hand, have the Byzantine mitre as part of the normal vestments worn by priests of all ranks, and their bishops are distinguished by wearing mitres after the western shape. Mitres are not worn in the Syriac Orthodox tradition, where a decorated hood like an amice called masnaphto , meaning 'turban', is worn instead by prelates. [3].
Pectoral cross 
A large cross is worn around the neck by all bishops, but not necessarily by all priests. In Russian usage, the style of Pectoral cross worn indicates the rank of the priest.
Engolpion (Greek ἐγκόλπιον) is a general term for something worn upon the bosom; here, it refers to a medallion with an icon in the center. A Panagia (Greek Παναγία, All-holy, one of the titles of the Theotokos) is an engolpion with Mary as the subject of the icon; this is worn by all bishops. All primates and some bishops below primatial rank have the dignity of a second engolpion, which usually depicts Christ.
Mantle (Greek μανδύας
This is a sleeveless cape that fastens at the neck and the feet, worn by all monks. The usual monastic mantle is black; that worn by the bishop as he enters the church for a service but before he is vested is more elaborately colored and decorated. This is, strictly speaking, an item of street wear, not a vestment; however, in modern usage it is worn only in church.
This is a broad stiff band of heavily embroidered brocade and decoration, functioning like a collar, worn exclusively by Armenian Orthodox priests over the phelonion. It corresponds to, and is likely derived from, the Western amice.

Despite their often elaborate design, the vestments are generally intended to focus attention on God, and the office of the person wearing them, rather than on the person himself. It is partly for this reason that a Russian phelonion is designed with a very high back, so that when the priest is standing facing the altar his head is almost completely hidden. Other items, such as the epimanikia or cuffs, represent manacles or chains, reminding the wearer and others that their office is a position of service.

Mormon Vestments

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, temple robes are worn at certain times during the worship services. While not strictly a vestment, some Mormons also wear temple garments, which are worn under a practicing Mormon's street clothes and are similar to the Jewish tallit katan.

See also

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VESTMENTS. The word "vestment" (Lat. vestimentum, fr. vestire, to clothe), meaning generally simply an article of clothing, is in the usage of the present day practically confined to the ceremonial garments worn in public worship; in this sense it may be used equally of the robes or "ornaments" of the ministers or priests of any religion. Ecclesiastical vestments, with which the present article is solely concerned, are the special articles of costume worn by the officers of the Christian Church "at all times of their ministration" - to quote the Ornaments Rubric of the English Book of Common Prayer, i.e. as distinct from the "clerical costume" worn in everyday life. Ecclesiastical vestments may again be divided into two categories: (1) liturgical vestments, (2) non-liturgical vestments. Liturgical vestments, as their name implies, are those which are especially associated with the various functions of the liturgy. Of these again, according to the fully developed rules of the Catholic Church, there are three classes: (I) vestments worn only at the celebration of mass - chasuble, maniple, pontifical gloves, pontifical shoes, the pallium and the papal fanone and subcinctorium; (2) vestments never worn at mass, but at other liturgical functions, such as processions, administration of the sacraments, solemn choir services, i.e. cope and surplice; (3) vestments used at both - alb, amice, girdle, stole, dalmatic, tunicle. Non-liturgical vestments are those, e.g. cappa magna, rochet, which have no sacral character, have come into use from motives of convenience or as insignia of dignity, and are worn at secular as well as ecclesiastical functions.

In the controversies as to the interpretation of the Anglican "Ornaments Rubric" (see below) the term "vestments" has been applied particularly to those worn at the celebration of mass, which is what is meant when it is said that "the vestments" are worn at such and such a church. This restriction of the term has some historical justification: in the First Prayer Book of Edward VI. the word "vestment" is used as synonymous with but one liturgical garment - the chasuble, the "mass vestment" par excellence; in the Prayer Book of 1559 "vestments" are eliminated altogether, "ornaments" being substituted as a more comprehensive term. As to the use of the word, it must be further stated that it is also technically applied to altar cloths, the altar being "vested" in frontal (antependium) and super-frontal (see Altar).

The subject of ecclesiastical vestments is not only one of great interest from the point of view of archaeology and art, but is also of importance, in so far as certain "ornaments" have become historically associated with certain doctrines on which the opinion of the Christian world is sharply divided. The present article can only give a brief outline of a subject as intricate as it is vast, frequently also extremely obscure, and rendered still more obscure by the fact that those who have applied themselves to it have too often done so in anything but a scientific spirit. It will deal briefly (I) with the general idea and the historical evolution of ecclesiastical vestments, (2) with the vestments as at present worn (a) in the Roman Catholic Church, (b) in the Oriental Churches, (c) in the Reformed Churches, (d) in the Anglican Church. The more important vestments are dealt with in some detail under their separate headings; here it will only be necessary to give short descriptions of those which cannot be conveniently treated separately.

1. The Origin and Idea of Ecclesiastical Vestments. - The liturgical vestments of the Catholic Church, East and West, are not, as was at one time commonly supposed, borrowed from the sacerdotal ornaments of the Jewish ritual, although the obvious analogies of this ritual doubtless to a certain extent determined their sacral character; they were developed independently out of the various articles of everyday dress worn by citizens of the Graeco-Roman world under the Empire. The officers of the Church during the first few centuries of its existence were content to officiate in the dress of civil life, though their garments were expected to be scrupulously clean and of decent quality. The few scattered references in contemporary records to the dress of the clergy all point to this as the only recognized rule.

Thus in the 37th of the so-called "Canons of Hippolytus" we read: "As often as the bishops would partake of the Mysteries, the presbyters and deacons shall gather round him clad in white, quite particularly clean clothes, more beautiful than those of the rest of the people." Thus, too, St Jerome, in his commentary on Ezek. xliv. 19, says that "We, too, ought not to enter the Holy of Holies in our everyday garments ... when they have become defiled from the use of ordinary life, but with a clean conscience, and in clean garments, hold in our hands the Sacrament of the Lord." When, in the year 289, St Cyprian was led to martyrdom, he wore, according to Eusebius (Hist. eccles. iv. cap. i I), an under tunic (linea), an upper tunic (dalmatica, tunica) and mantle (lacerna, byrrus). This was the ordinary type of the civil costume of the time. The tunica, a loose sack-like tunic with a hole for the head, was the innermost garment worn by all classes of Roman citizens under the republic and empire. It was either sleeveless (colobium) or sleeved (tunica manicata or manuleata), and originally fell about to the knee, but later on reached to the ankles (tunica talaris). St Augustine (De doctr. christ. iii. cap. 10, n. 20) says that to wear talaris et tunicas manicatas was a disgrace among the ancient Romans, but that in his own day it was no longer so considered in the case of persons of good birth. The tunica was originally of white wool, but in the 3rd century it began to be made of linen, and from the 4th century was always of linen. About the 6th century the long tunica alba went out of fashion in civil life, but it was retained in the services of the Church and developed into the various forms of the liturgical alb (q.v.) and surplice (q.v.). The tunica dalmatica was a long, sleeved upper tunic, originating, as its name implies, in Dalmatia, and first becoming fashionable at Rome in the 2nd century; it is the origin of the liturgical dalmatic and tunicle (see Dalmatic). Another over-dress of the Romans was the paenula, a cloak akin to the poncho of the modern Spaniards and Spanish Americans, i.e. a large piece of stuff with a hole for the head to go through, hanging in ample folds round the body. This was originally worn only by slaves, soldiers and other people of low degree; in the 3rd century, however, it was adopted by fashionable people as a convenient riding or travelling cloak; and finally, by the sumptuary law of 382 (Cod. Theod. xiv. 10, r, de habitu. intra urbem) it was prescribed as the proper everyday dress of senators, instead of the military chlamys, the toga being reserved for state occasions. This was the origin of the principal liturgical vestment, the chasuble (q.v.).

As late as the 6th century these garments were common both to the clergy and laity, and, so far as their character was concerned, were used both in the liturgy and in everyday life. Meanwhile, however, a certain development had taken place. By the 4th century the garments worn at liturgical functions had been separated from those in ordinary use, though still identical in form. It is in the 4th century, too, that the first distinctive vestment makes its appearance, the c'opoc/36piov worn by all bishops in the East; in the 5th century we find this in use at Rome under the name of pallium (q.v.), as the distinctive ornament of the pope (see fig. 1). About the same time the orarium, or stole (q.v.), becomes fixed in liturgical use. The main development and definition of the ecclesiastical vestments, however, took place between the xxvii. 34 6th and the 9th centuries. The secular fashions altered with changes of taste; but the Church retained the dress with the other traditions of the Roman Empire. At Rome, especially, where the popes had succeeded to a share of the power and pretensions of the Caesars of the West, the accumulation of ecclesiastical vestments symbolized a very special dignity: in the second quarter of the 9th century the pope, when fully vested, wore a camisia girdled, an alb (linea) girdled, an amice (anagolaium), a tunicle (dalmatica minor), a dalmatic (dalmatica major), stole (orarium), chasuble (planeta) and pallium. With the exception of the pallium, this was also the costume of the Roman deacons. By this time, moreover, the liturgical character of the vestments was so completely established that they were no longer worn instead of, but over, the ordinary dress.

Hitherto the example of the Roman Church had exercised no exclusive determining influence on ritual development even in the West. The popes had, from time to time, sent the pallium or the dalmatic - specifically Roman vestments - as gifts of honour to various distinguished prelates; Britain, converted by a Roman mission, had adopted the Roman use, and English missionaries had carried this into the newly Christianized parts of Germany; but the great Churches of Spain and Gaul preserved their own traditions in vestments as in other matters. From the 9th century onwards, however, this was changed; everywhere in the West the Roman use ousted the regional uses.

This change synchronized with the revival of the Western Empire under Charlemagne, a revival which necessarily gave an impulse to the claims of the see of Rome. The adoption of the Roman liturgical dress had, however, at most an indirect connexion with these claims. Charlemagne was active in prescribing the adoption of the Roman use; but this was only as part of his general policy in the organization of his em pire. A renovation of the Gallican Church was not the least crying need; and, in view of the confusion of rites (Gallican, Gothic, Roman, Ambrosian) in the Frankish empire, Charlemagne recognized that this innovation could only be effectually carried out by a closer connexion with Rome in ritual as in other matters. Charlemagne's activity in this respect was, in effect, but the completion of a process that had been going on since the 6th century. Whatever effect the reinvigoration of the papacy may have had in hastening the process, the original impulse towards the adoption of the Roman rite had proceeded, not from Rome, but from Spain and Gaul; it was the natural result of the lively intercourse between the Churches of these countries and the Holy See. Nor was the process of assimilation by any means one-sided. If Spain and Gaul borrowed from Rome, they also exercised a reciprocal influence on the Roman use; it is interesting to note in this connexion, that of the names of the liturgical vestments a very large proportion are not of Roman origin, and that the non-Roman names tended to supersede the Roman in Rome itself.' ' Apart from the archiepiscopal pallium, the Churches of Spain and Gaul had need to borrow from Rome only the dalmatic, maniple and liturgical shoes. On the other hand, it was from Spain and Gaul that Rome probably received the orarium (stole) as an ensign of the major orders. Father Braun, to whose kindness the writer is indebted for the above account of the causes of the ritual changes in the Carolingian epoch, adds that the papacy was never narrowminded in its attitude towards local rites, and that it was not until the close of the middle ages, when diversity had become confusion and worse, that it began to insist upon uniformity. Even then it allowed those rites to survive which could prove a tradition of 200 years.

Missing image

FIG. 1. - Pope Honorius (d. 638). From a mosaic in S. Agnese in Rome.

FIG. 2. - Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury (1052-1070); from the Bayeux Tapestry. Note the absence of the mitre, the chasuble short or tucked up in front, the maniple still carried in the left hand.

Missing image

i '? ?"?;1?'.5 /(. // ??


Missing image

(,74,1" The period between the 9th and the 13th centuries is that of the final development of the liturgical vestments in the West. In the 9th century appeared the pontifical gloves; in the loth, the mitre; in the 11th, the use of liturgical shoes and stockings was reserved for cardinals and bishops. By the 12th century, mitre and gloves were worn by all bishops, and in many cases they had assumed a new ornament, the rationale, a merely honorific decoration (supposed to symbolize doctrine and wisdom), sometimes of the nature of a highly ornamental broad shoulder collar with dependent lappets; sometimes closely resembling the pallium; rarely a "breast-plate" on the model of that of the Jewish high priest.' This elaboration of the pontifical vestments was contemporaneous with, and doubtless partly determined by, the assimilation of the bishops during those centuries to the type of the great feudal nobles whose ambitions and love of pomp they shared.

In an age when, with the evolution of the feudal organization cf society, even everyday costume was becoming a uniform, symbolizing in material and colour the exact status of the wearer, it was natural that in the parallel organization of the Church the official vestments should undergo a similar process of differentiation and definition. With this process, which in all its essential features was completed in the 11th century, doctrinal developments had little or nothing to do, though from the 9th century onwards liturgiologists were busy expounding the mystic symbolism of garments which, until their imagination set to work, had for the most part no symbolism whatever (see below). Yet in view of later controversies, the changes made during this period, notably in the vestments connected with the mass, are not without significance. Hitherto the chasuble had been worn indifferently by all ministers at the eucharist, even by the acolytes; it had been worn also at processions and other non-liturgical functions; it was now exalted into the mass vestment par excellence, worn by the celebrant only, or by his immediate assistants (deacon and subdeacon) only on very special occasions. New vestments were devised to take the place, on less solemn occasions, of those hallowed by association with the holy sacrifice; thus the processional cope (q.v.) appeared in the 11th century and the surplice (q.v.) in the 12th. A change, too, came over the general character of vestments. Up to the 9th century these had been very plain, without ornament save such traditional decorations as the clavi of the dalmatic; what splendour they had was due to their material and the ample folds of their draperies. But from this time onwards they tend to become more and more elaborately decorated with embroidery and jeweller's work (see, e.g. the articles Chasuble and Cope).

Very significant, too, is the parting of the ways in the development of liturgical vestments in the East and West. During the first centuries both branches of the Church had used vestments substantially the same, developed from common originals; the alb, chasuble, stole and pallium were the equivalents of the anxItinov, e t fvoXcov, copapcov and 1 The rationale is worn only over the chasuble. It is now used only by the bishops of Eichstatt, Cracow, Paderborn and Toul, by the special concession of various popes. See Braun, Liturg. Gewandung, pp. 676-700.

d)µookopcov. While, however, between the 9th and 13th centuries, the Western Church was adding largely to her store of vestments, that of the East increased her list by but three, the Evxfipcov and i rtyaviKCa (see Maniple) and the aaKKos (see Dalmatic). The living force of development in the Latin Church was symbolized in her garments; the stereotyped orthodoxy of the Greek Church in hers. With the exception of the mitre, introduced in the 15th or 16th century, the liturgical costume of the Eastern clergy remains now practically what it was in the 9th century.

In the Western Church, though from the 9th century onwards the Roman use had been the norm, considerable alterations continued to be made in the shape and decoration of the liturgical vestments, and in this respect various Churches developed different traditions (see, e.g. Chasuble). The definition FIG. 5. - Thomas Cranley, Archbishop of Dublin (d. 1417). From a brass in New College Chapel, Oxford. In addition to the vestments shown in fig. 3 he wears the archiepiscopal pallium.

of their use by the various orders of the clergy in the several liturgical functions, however, was established by the close of the 13th century and still continues in force. Before discussing the changes made in the various Reformed Churches, due to the doctrinal developments of the 16th century, we may therefore give here a list of the vestments now worn by the various orders of clergy in the Roman Catholic Church and the Oriental Churches.

Table of contents

Roman Catholic Church

As the sacrifice of the mass is the central mystery of the Catholic faith, so the seven orders of the hierarchy culminate in that of priest, who alone is empowered to work the daily miracle of the altar (see Holy Order). The vestments worn by the priest when celebrating mass are then the most important. The cassock, which must always be worn under the vestments, is not itself a liturgical garment. Over this the priest, robing for mass, puts on the amice, alb, girdle (cingulum), stole, maniple and chasuble. Taking the other orders downwards: deacons wear amice, alb, girdle, stole, maniple' and dalmatic; subdeacons, amice, alb, girdle, maniple and tunicle; the vestment proper to the minor orders, formerly the alb, is now the surplice or cotta. Bishops, as belonging to the order of priesthood with completed powers, wear the same vestments as the priests, with the addition of ' The stole and maniple alone are symbolical of order, i.e. of the relation to the sacrifice of the mass.

FIG. 4. - Dr Henry Sever (d. 1471). From a brass in the chapel of Merton College, Oxford. He is vested in surplice, stole and cope.

Missing image

From Braun's Liturgische Gewandung, by permission of B. Herder.

FIG. 3. - Monumental Figure of Bishop Johannes of Lubeck (d. 1350) in Lubeck Cathedral.

the pectoral cross, the pontifical gloves, the pontifical ring, the liturgical sandals and caligae, a tunicle worn over the stole and under the chasuble, and the mitre (see fig. 3). Archbishops, on solemn occasions, wear the pallium over the chasuble (see fig. 5). Bishops also carry a pastoral staff, as symbol of their pastoral office. Finally, the pope, when celebrating mass, wears the same vestments as an ordinary bishop, with the addition of the subcinctorium (see ALB), a dalmatic, worn over the tunicle and under the chasuble, and the orale or fanone (see Amice). It should be noted that the liturgical head-dress of the pope is the mitre, not the tiara, which is the symbol of his supreme office and jurisdiction (see Tiara) .

Of the liturgical vestments not immediately or exclusively associated with the sacrifice of the mass the most conspicuous are the cope and surplice. The biretta, too, though not in its origin or in some of its uses a liturgical vestment, has developed a distinctly liturgical character (see Biretta). Besides the strictly liturgical vestments there are also numerous articles of costume worn at choir services, in processions, or on ceremonial occasions in everyday life, which have no sacral character; such are the almuce, the cappa and mozzetta (see Cope), the rochet (q.v.), the pileolus, a skullcap, worn also sometimes under mitre and tiara. These are generally ensigns of dignity; their form and use varies in different Churches, and they often represent special privileges conferred by the popes, e.g. the cappa of the Lateran basilica worn by the canons of Westminster cathedral, or the almuce worn, by concession of Pope Pius IX., by the members of the Sistine choir.

The character of the vestments, the method of putting them on, and the occasions on which they are severally to be worn, are regulated with the minutest care in the Missal and the Caeremoniale. Oriental Churches. - As already stated, the vestments of the great historical Churches of the East are derived from the same Graeco-Roman originals as those of the West, but in contradistinction to the latter they have remained practically stereotyped, both in character and number, for a thousand years; in the East, however, even more than in the West the tendency to gorgeous ornamentation has prevailed.

An Orthodox bishop, vested for the holy liturgy, wears over his cassock - (i) the rnxcipcov, or alb (q.v.); the E7nrpay,Acov, or stole (q.v.); (3) the a narrow stuff girdle clasped behind, which holds together the two vestments above named; (4) the E7 n ,uaviexa, liturgical cuffs, corresponding, possibly, to the pontifical gloves of the West;' (5) the i 7rtyovarcov, a stiff lozengeshaped piece of stuff hanging at the right side by a piece of riband from the girdle or attached to the o-AKKos, the equivalent of the Western maniple (q.v.); (6) the like the Western dalmatic (q.v.), worn instead of the 4acv6Acov, or chasuble; (7) the c?µocp6pcov, the equivalent of the Western pallium (q.v.). Besides these, the bishop also wears a pectoral cross (i yKbX7r Loy) and a medal containing a relic (7rave yea). He also has a mitre (q.v.), and carries a crozier (5ucavLs ov), a rather short staff ending in two curved branches decorated with serpents' heads, with a cross between them.

The vestments of a priest are the sticharion, epitrachelion, girdle, epimanikia and phainolion (see Chasuble). He wears all these vestments only at the celebration of the eucharist and on other very solemn occasions; at other ministrations he wears only the epitrachelion and phainolion over his cassock. A dignitary in 1 This is the view of Dr Adrian Fortescue (The Orthodox Eastern Church, p. 406); according to Braun (Lit. Gewandung, p. Ioo) they were originally merely the ornamental cuffs (Acopia) of the episcopal sticharion, which were detached for purposes of convenience.

priest's orders is distinguished by wearing the epigonation; and in Russia the use of the mitre is sometimes conceded to distinguished priests by the tsar. The deacon wears. the sticharion, without a girdle, the epimanikia and the orarion (cop(ipeov, Lat. orarium, see Stole) hanging over his left shoulder. The lesser orders wear a shorter sticharion and an orarion wound round it.

On less solemn occasions bishops wear the mandyas ( A avHuas), a cope-like garment fastened at the lower corners as well as at the neck, and the kalimaukion (KaXamtainc ov), a tall, brimless hat, with a veil hanging down behind, and, in place of the S &aKOP they carry a short staff with an ivory cross-piece. The kalimaukion is also worn by the other clergy in ordinary life, and with their vestments at processions, &c.

The general character of the vestments is much the same in the other Oriental rites. The sticharion answers to the Armenian shabik, the Nestorian kutina, the Coptic tuniah or stoicharion; the epimanikia to the Arm. pasban (which, however, resembles rather the Latin maniple), the Nestorian zando, and the Coptic kiman; the epitrachelion to the Arm. por-urar, Syrian uroro, Coptic bat- rashil; the girdle to the Arm. kodi, Nestorian zunro; the phainolion to the Nestorian phaino and Arm. shurtshar, both of which are, however, cope-shaped.' Armenian priests, besides, wear a mitre (see Mitre, fig. 3), and a collar-like ornament probably derived from the apparel of the Western amice (q.v.). The liturgical handkerchief, which in the Greek Church has become the epigonation, has retained its original form in the Armenian.

The Liturgical Colours

In another respect the vestments of the Eastern differ from those of the Western Church. In the East there is no sequence of liturgical colours, nor, indeed, any definite sense of liturgical colour at all; the vestments are usually white or red, and stiff with gold embroidery. In the West the custom, long universal, of marking the seasons of the ecclesiastical year and the more prominent fasts and festivals by the colour of the vestments of clergy and altar dates, approximately, from the 12th century: the subject is mentioned (c. 1200) in the treatise of Innocent III., De sacro altaris mysterio (cap. 10), where the rules are laid down which are still essentially those of the Roman Church,' though the liturgical colours were only four, violet belonging to the category of black - as that of mourning. Custom in this respect was, however, exceedingly varied for a long time, numerous important Churches having their own "uses," and it was not until the time of the Reformation that the Roman use was fixed and became the norm of the Churches of the Roman obedience.

According to the rubric of the Roman Missal (tit. xviii.) the liturgical colours are five: white, red, green, violet, black. Though, in the embroidery of vestments, many colours may be used, these five above named must severally give the dominant tone of colour on the occasions for which they are appointed. Gold brocades or cloth-of-gold may, however, be substituted for red, green and white, and silver for white. The following is a list of the occasions to which the various colours are appropriated: White. - Trinity Sunday, all festivals of Christ (except those connected with the Passion), festivals of the Blessed Virgin, of the Holy Angels and Confessors, of holy virgins and women (not being martyrs), nativity of St John the Baptist, festivals of the chains of St Peter and of his see (cathedra Petri), Conversion of St Paul, All Saints, consecration of churches and altars, anniversary of election and coronation of popes, and of election and consecration of bishops. White is also worn during the octaves of these festivals, on ordinary days (for which no special colour is provided) between Easter and Whitsuntide, at certain special masses connected with the saints falling under the above category, and at bridal masses.

By the sub-committee of Convocation in their Report (1908) these vestments are wrongly classed as copes, i.e. as derived not from the paenula but from the lacerna or birrus (see Cope, footnote).

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem seems already to have had its canon of liturgical colours.

Missing image

From a photograph by Conjugi Cane, Rome.

FIG. 6. - Pope Leo XIII. in his Vestments as Supreme Pontiff.

Missing image

FIG. 7. - An Orthodox Eastern Patriarch in full Pontificals.

White is also the colour proper to sacramental processions, and generally to all devotions connected with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. At baptisms the priest wears a violet stole during the first part of the service, i.e. the exorcization then changes it for a white one. White is worn at the funerals of children.


Saturday before Whitsunday, Whitsunday and its octave; all festivals in commemoration of the sufferings of Christ, i.e. festival of the instruments of the Passion, of the Precious Blood, of the invention and elevation of the Cross; all festivals of apostles, except those above noted; festivals of martyrs; masses for a papal election; the Feast of the Holy Innocents, when it falls on a Sunday (violet if on a week-day), and its octave (always red). In England red vestments are worn at the mass (of the Holy Spirit) attended by the Roman Catholic judges and barristers at the opening of term, the so-called "Red Mass." Green. - Sundays and week-days between Epiphany and Septuagesima, and between Trinity and Advent, except festivals and their octaves and Ember days.


Advent; the days between Septuagesima and Maundy Thursday; vigils that fall on fast days, and Ember days, except the vigil before Whitsunday (red) and the Ember days in Whitsun week (red). Violet vestments are also worn on days of intercession, at votive masses of the Passion, at certain other masses of a pronouncedly intercessory and penitential character, at intercessory processions, at the blessing of candles on Candlemas Day, and at the blessing of the baptismal water. A violet stole is worn by the priest when giving absolution after confession, and when administering Extreme Unction.


Masses for the dead and funeral ceremonies of adults; the mass of the pre-sanctified on Good Friday).

Benediction of Vestments

In the Roman Catholic Church the amice, alb, girdle, stole, maniple, chasuble must be solemnly blessed by the bishop or his delegate, the prayers and other forms to be observed being set forth in the Pontificale (see Benediction). Other vestments - e.g. dalmatic, tunicle, surplice - are sometimes blessed when used in connexion with the sacrifice of the mass, but there is no definite rule on the subject. The custom is very ancient, Father Braun giving evidence as to its existence at Rome as early as the 6th century (Liturg. Gewandung, p. 760, &c.).

Mystic Meaning of Vestments

It is clear from what has been said above that the liturgical vestments possessed originally no mystic symbolic meaning whatever; it was equally certain that, as their origins were forgotten, they would develop such a symbolic meaning. The earliest record of any attempt to interpret this symbolism that we possess is, so far as the West is concerned, the short exposition in the Explicatio Missae of Germanus, bishop of Paris (d. 576), the earliest of any elaboration that of Hrabanus Maurus (d. 856). From the latter's time onward a host of liturgists took up the theme, arguing from the form, the material, the colour and the fashion of wearing the various garments to symbolical interpretations almost as numerous as the interpreters themselves. The Report of the five bishops divides them into three schools: (1) the moralizing school, the oldest, by which - as in the case of St Jerome's treatment of the Jewish vestments - the vestments are explained as typical of the virtues proper to those who wear them; (2) the Christological school, i.e. that which considered the minister as the representative of Christ and his garments as typical of some aspects of Christ's person or office - e.g. the stole is his obedience and servitude for our sakes; (3) the allegorical school, which treats the priest as a warrior or champion, who puts on the amice as a helmet, the alb as a breastplate, and so on. We cannot even outline here the process of selection by which the symbolic meanings now stereotyped in the Roman Pontifical were arrived at. These are taken from the various schools of interpretation mentioned above, and are now formulated in the words used by the bishop when, in ordaining to any office, he places the vestment on the ordinand with the appropriate words, e.g. " Take the amice, which signifies discipline in speech," while other interpretations survive in 1 In the Anglican Church, in the numerous cases when the liturgical colours are used, these generally follow the Roman use, which was in force before the Reformation in the important dioceses of Canterbury, York, London and Exeter. Some Churches, however, have adopted the colours of the use of Salisbury (Sarum). The red hangings of the Holy Table, usual where the liturgical colours are not used, are also - like the cushions to support the service books - supposed to be a survival of the Sarum use.

the prayers offered by the priest when vesting, e.g. with the amice, "Place on my head the helmet of salvation," &c. For the symbolic meanings of the various vestments see the separate articles devoted to them.

Protestant Churches

In the Protestant Churches 2 the custom as to vestments differs widely, corresponding to a similar divergence in tradition and teaching. At the Reformation two tendencies became apparent. Luther and his followers regarded vestments as among the adiaphora, and in the Churches which afterwards came to be known as "Lutheran" many of the traditional vestments were retained. Calvin, on the other hand, laid stress on the principle of the utmost simplicity in public worship; at Geneva the traditional vestments were absolutely abolished, and the Genevan model was followed by the Calvinistic or "Reformed" Churches throughout Europe. The Church of England, in which the Lutheran and Calvinistic points of view struggled for the mastery, a struggle which resulted in a compromise, is separately dealt with below. At the present day the Lutheran Churches of Denmark and Scandinavia retain the use of alb and chasuble in the celebration of the eucharist (stole, amice, girdle and maniple were disused after the Reformation), and for bishops the cope and mitre. The surplice is not used, the ministers conducting the ordinary services and preaching in a black gown, of the 16th-century type, with white bands or ruff. In Germany the Evangelical Church (outcome of a compromise between Lutherans and Reformed) has, in general, now discarded the old vestments. In isolated instances (e.g. at Leipzig) the surplice is still worn; but the pastors now usually wear a barret cap, a black gown of the type worn by Luther himself, and white bands. In Prussia the superintendents now wear pectoral crosses (instituted by the emperor William II.). In the "Reformed" Churches the minister wears the black "Geneva" gown with bands. It is to be noted, however, that this use has been largely discontinued in the modern "Free" Churches. On the other hand, some of these have in recent times adopted the surplice, and in one at least (the Catholic Apostolic Church) the traditional Catholic vestments have been largely revived.

Anglican Church

The subject of ecclesiastical vestments has been, ever since the Reformation, hotly debated in the Church of England. For a hundred years after the Elizabethan settlement the battle raged round the compulsory use of the surplice and square cap, both being objected to by the extreme Calvinists or Puritans. This question was settled after 1662 by the secession of the Nonconformist clergy, and no more was heard of the matter until the "Oxford movement" in the 10th century. At the outset the followers of Newman and Pusey were more concerned with doctrine than with ritual; but it was natural that a reassertion of Catholic teaching should be followed by a revival of Catholic practice, and by the middle of the century certain "Ritualists," pleading the letter of the Ornaments Rubric in the Prayer Book, had revived the use of many of the pre-Reformation vestments. Into the history of the resulting controversies it is impossible to enter. Popular passion confused the issues, and raged as violently against the substitution of the surplice for the Geneva gown in the pulpit as against the revival of the "mass vestments." The law was invoked, and, confronted for the first time with the intricacies of the Ornaments Rubric, spoke with an uncertain voice. In 1870, however, the "vestments" were definitely pronounced illegal by the Privy Council (Hebbert v. Purchas), and since the "Ritualists" refused to bow to this decision, parliament intervened with the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874, which set up a disciplinary machinery for enforcing the law, and at the same time reconstituted the Court of Arches. The recalcitrant clergy refused to obey an act passed solely by the secular authority (convocation not having been consulted) or to acknowledge the jurisdiction of a court which had been robbed of its "spiritual" character. Prosecutions 2 The term "Protestant" is used here in its widest sense of those Churches which reformed their doctrine and discipline as a result of the religious revolution of the 16th century (see Reformation).

"on the complaint of two parishioners" (too often qualified ad hoc by a temporary residence) followed; and since the act had provided no penalty save imprisonment for contempt of court, there followed the scandal of zealous clergymen being lodged in gaol indefinitely "for conscience' sake." This result revolted public opinion; the bishops acquired the habit (rendered easier by the personal expense involved in setting the law in motion) of vetoing, under the power given to them in the act, all prosecutions; and the act became a dead letter. The "persecution" had meanwhile produced its natural result: the use of the forbidden vestments rapidly spread; and since there was no central authority left competent to command obedience, every incumbent - intrenched in his freehold as a "corporation sole" - became a law unto himself. The outcome has been that in the Church of England, and in many of her daughter Churches, there exists a bewildering variety of "uses," varying from that of Sarum and that of Rome down to the closest possible approximation to the Geneva model.

Some explanation of this state of things may be ventured. Apart from those clergy (still the majority) who follow in all essentials the post-Reformation traditions of the English Church, there are three schools among those who justify the use of the ancient "eucharistic" 1 vestments: (I) a small number who affect to ignore the rules of the Prayer Book altogether, on the ground that no local or national Church has the right to alter the doctrines or practice of the Catholic Church, of which they are priests in virtue of their ordination, and whose prescriptions and usages they are in conscience bound to follow; (2) those who maintain that the Ornaments Rubric, in the phrase "second year of King Edward VI.," prescribes the ornaments in use before the first Prayer Book.; (3) those who hold that under the Rubric the ornaments prescribed in the first Prayer Book are to be "had in use." The attitude of the first group needs no comment: it makes every priest the arbiter of what is or is not "Catholic," and is destructive of that principle of definite authority which is the very foundation of Catholicism. The attitude of the second group is based on a mistake as to the technical meaning of "the second year of Edward VI.," the second Prayer Book not having come into use till the third year. 2 As to the third group, their contention seems now to be admitted, though not all its implications. What, then, are the vestments sanctioned by the Ornaments Rubric ? In its present form this dates from the Prayer Book revision of 1662. It runs: "And here it is to be noted that such ornaments of the church and of the ministers thereof at all times of their ministration shall be retained and be in use, as was in the Church of England by the authority of parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward VI." The wording of this was taken from the last section of Elizabeth's Act of Uniformity, prefixed to the Prayer Book of 1559. In the Act, however, these words were added: "until other order shall be therein taken by the authority of the Queen's Majesty, with the advice of the Commissioners appointed and authorized under the Great Seal of England, for causes ecclesiastical, or of the Metropolitan." The Rubric in the Prayer Book of 1559 ran: "... the minister at the time of the Communion, and at all other times in his ministration, shall use, &c.... according to the Act of Parliament set in the beginning of this book." 3 1 This term is incorrect (save in the case of chasuble and maniple), but is that commonly employed by the "High Church" clergy.

Edward VI. came to the throne on the 28th of January 1547; his "second year," therefore, lasted from the 28th of January 1548 to the 27th of January 1549. The first Prayer Book passed parliament on the 21st of January 1549, but did not receive the royal assent till later, probably March, and was not in compulsory use till Whitsunday, June 9th, 2549. The old rule, however, was that "every act of parliament in which the commencement thereof is not directed to be from a specific time, doth commence from the first day of the session of parliament in which such act is passed" (33 Geo. III. c. 13). The evidence is now clear that the Rubric refers to the first Prayer Book. This was decided in Liddell v. Westerton (1857), and is admitted in the Report of the five bishops to Convocation on The Ornaments of the Church and its Ministers (1908), which adduces conclusive evidence.

3 This was inserted, probably by the Privy Council, as a memorandum or interpretation of the clause in the Act of Uniformity.

Clearly it was the intention of the government, consistently with the whole trend of its policy, to cover its concession to the Protestant party dominant in the Commons by retaining some of the outward forms of the old services until such time as it should be expedient to "take other order." Then followed a period of great confusion. If the "massing vestments" continued anywhere in use, it was not for long. Whatever the letter of the law under th.e rubric, the Protestant bishops and the commissioners made short work of such "popish stuff" as chasubles, albs and the like. As for copes, in some places they were ordered to be worn, and were worn at the Holy Communion, 4 while elsewhere they were thrown into the bonfires with the rest.5 The difficulty seems to have been not to suppress the chasuble, of the use of which after 1559 not a single authoritative instance has been adduced, but to save the surplice, which the more zealous Puritans looked on with scarcely less disfavour. At last, in 1565, Queen Elizabeth determined to secure uniformity, and wrote to Archbishop Parker bidding him proceed by order, injunction or censure, "according to the order and appointment of such laws and ordinances as are provided by act of parliament, and the true meaning thereof, so that uniformity may be enforced." The result was the issue in 1566 by the archbishop of the statutory Advertisements, which fixed the vestments of the clergy as follows: (1) In the ministration of the Holy Communion in cathedral and collegiate churches, the principal minister to wear a cope, with gospeller and epistoler agreeably; 6 at all other prayers to be said at the Communion table, to use no copes but surplices; (2) the dean and prebendaries to wear surplice and hood; (3) every minister saying public prayers, or ministering the sacraments, to wear "a comely surplice with sleeves." This has been decided by the judicial committee of the Privy Council (Hebbert v. Purchas, 1870; Ridsdale v. Clifton, 1877) to have been the "other order" contemplated in the Act of Uniformity of Elizabeth, and it was held that from this time the cope and surplice alone were legal vestments in the Church of England. The authority of the Advertisements, indeed, was and is disputed; but their lordships in their judgment pointed out that they were accepted as authoritative by the canons of 1603 (Can. 24 and 58), and argued convincingly that the revisers of the Prayer Book in 1662, in restoring the Tomlinson (The Prayer Book, Articles and Homilies, p. 122 seq.) argues that this was a "fraud rubric" inserted without authority, and utterly perverting the meaning of the proviso in the Act of Uniformity. This argument is dealt with in the bishop's Report, p. 66.

4 Resolutions of 1561, " Item that there be used only but one apparel; as the cope in the ministration of the Lord's Supper." See Report, p. 68.

Missing image

5 See Machyn's Diary (Camden Soc. 42; London, 1848), p. 208, for St Bartholomew's day, 1559: "All the roods, and Maries and Johns, and many other of the church goods, both copes, crosses, censers, altar cloths, rood cloths, books, banners,. .. with much other gear about London," were "burned with great wonder." Yet later the co p e seems to have been authoritatively proscribed with the rest. In the Acts of the Privy Council (1578-1580), p. 208, is the following entry: "A letter to Sir Walter Ashton, Knight, Mr. Deane of Lichefield, etc.. touching certaine copes, vestments, tunicles and such other Popishe stuffe informed by letter from the Dean of Lichefield to be within the cathedral churche of Lichefield; they. are required to assemble themselves together in the towne of Lichefield and to cause the said Popishe stuffe to be sought out and brought before them, and thereupon to deface the same. .. and to see the same effectuallie done, and thereof to advertise their Lordships." FIG. 8. - Anglican Priest in Cassock, Surplice, and Narrow Black Scarf. Brass of William Dye (d. 1567) at Westerham, Kent.

rubric of 1559, had no idea of legalizing any vestments other than those in customary use under the Advertisements, and the canons (cf. Report of sub-committee of Convocation, pp. 48, 49). The law, then, is perfectly clear, so far as two decisions of the highest court in the realm can make it so. But apart from the fact that the authority of the Privy Council, as not being a "spiritual" court, is denied by many of the clergy, no one claims that its decisions are irreversible in the light of fresh evidence.

Thirty years after the Ridsdale judgment, the ritual confusion in the Church of England was worse than ever, and the old ideal expressed in the Acts of Uniformity had given place to a desire to sanctify with some sort of authority the parochial "uses" which had grown up. In this respect the dominant opinion in the Church, intent on compromise, seems to have been expressed in the Report presented in 1908 to the convocation of the province of Canterbury by the sub-committee of five bishops appointed to investigate the matter, namely, that under the Ornaments Rubric the vestments prescribed in the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. are permitted, if not enjoined. Even if this be so, the question arises, what vestments were prescribed in the Prayer Book of 1 549 ? It has been commonly assumed, and the assumption has been translated into practice, that the rubrics of 1549 prescribed the use of all the old "mass vestments." This, however, is not the case. In the short rubric before the communion service the celebrating priest is directed to "put upon him. .. a white alb plain with a vestment or cope," while the assisting priests or deacons are to wear "albs with tunicles." In the additional explanatory notes at the end of the book, after directions as to the wearing of surplice and hood in quire, in cathedral and collegiate churches (they are not made obligatory elsewhere), bishops are directed to wear, besides the rochet, a surplice or alb, and a cope or vestment, with a pastoral staff borne either by themselves or their chaplains.' Thus the alternative use of cope or chasuble (vestment) is allowed at the celebration of Holy Communion - an obvious compromise; of the amice, girdle (cingulum), maniple and stole there is not a word, 2 and the inference to be drawn is that these were now disused. The cingulum, indeed, which symbolized chastity (i.e. celibacy), would naturally have been discarded now that the clergy were allowed to marry, while the stole had become intimately associated with the doctrine of holy orders elaborated by the medieval schoolmen and rejected by the Reformers (see Holy Order). If this be so, the case is exactly parallel with that of the Lutheran Churches which, about the same time, had discarded all the "mass vestments" except the alb and chasuble. It becomes, then, a question whether the present-day practice of many of the clergy, ostensibly based on the rubric of 1549, is in fact covered by this. The revived use of the stole is the most curious problem involved; for this, originally due to a confusion of this vestment with the ' There is no mention of mitre, gloves, dalmatic, tunicle, sandals and caligae, which were presumably discontinued.

2 It has been argued that the term "vestment" covers all these. The Report of 1908 (Appendix A, p. 109) says cautiously that the word "may perhaps in some cases stand for the chasuble with the amice, stole and fanon, the alb being mentioned separately," but adds that "very many of the instances commonly cited for this (e.g. those in Essays on Ceremonial, p. 246) are quite inconclusive, as ` vestment ' is often a convertible term with ' chasuble '; and it does not seem to be at all conclusively established that ' vestment ' with ' alb ' mentioned separately, and ' cope ' given as an alternative, in a document with the precision and directive force of a Rubric, means more than the actual chasuble." Father Braun (Die liturg. Gewandung in der Englischen Staatskirche) endorses this opinion. He gives reasons for believing that in the Church of England, under the first Prayer Book, as in the Lutheran Churches, while chasuble and alb were retained, stole, maniple, amice and girdle were discontinued. With this the bishop of Exeter (Ornaments Rubric, p. 30) would seem to agree, when he says that "the customs of the present day do not fully accord with any reasonable interpretation of the rubric. The stole, now nearly universal, is only covered by the rubric if the word ' vestment ' be taken to include it (a very dubious point), and then only at Holy Communion." traditional Anglican black scarf, has now become all but universal among the clergy of all schools of thought (see Stole) .

The five bishops in their Report, tracing the various vestments to their origins, conclude that they are meaningless in themselves, and therefore things indifferent. This appears gravely to misread history. The chasuble and the rest, whatever their origin, had become associated during the middle ages with certain doctrines the rejection of which at the Reformation was symbolized by their disuse. 3 Their revival has proceeded par' passe with that of the doctrines with which they have long since become associated. With the truth or falsehood of these doctrines we are not here concerned; but that the revived vestments are chiefly valued because of their doctrinal significance the clergy who use them would be the last to deny. Nor is the argument that they are a visible manifestation of the continuity of the Church anything but a doubleedged weapon; for, as Father Braun pertinently asks, if these be their symbolism, of what was their disuse in the Church of England for nigh on 3 00 years a symbol? 4 In 1 9 10 the question of the "permissive use of vestments," in connexion with that of the revision of the Prayer Book generally, was still under discussion in the convocations of the two provinces. But there was little chance that any change in the rubric, even in the improbable event of its receiving the sanction of parliament, would produce any appreciable effect. It is often forgotten that "extreme" ritual is no longer an "innovation" in the English Church; it has become the norm in a large number of parishes, and whole generations of Church people have grown up to whom it is the only familiar type of Christian worship. To attempt to "enforce the law" (whatever the law may be) would, therefore, seriously wound the consciences of a large number of people who are quite unconscious of having broken it. Formally to legalize the minimum enjoined by the rubrics of 1549 would, on the other hand, offend the "Protestant" section of the Church, without reconciling those who would be content with nothing short of the Catholic maximum.


- All previous works on vestments have been largely superseded by Father Joseph Braun's Die liturgische Gewandung (Freiburg-im-Breisgau, 1907), a monument of careful and painstaking research, profusely illustrated. This contains a list of medieval writers on the subject, another of the inventories used by the author, and one of more modern works. W. B. Marriott's Vestiarium Christianum (1868), though it must now be read with caution, is still of much value, notably the second part, which gives texts (with translations) of passages bearing on the subject taken from early and medieval writers, with many interesting plates. Of other works may be mentioned Mgr. L. Duchesne's Origines du culte chretien (Paris, 1903), and especially C. Rohault de Fleury's La Messe (Paris, 1883-89). See also F. X. Kraus, Realencyklopddie der christlichen Altertiinaer (Freiburg-i.-B., 1882, 1886); Smith and Cheetham, Diet. of Christian Antiquities (ed. 1893) and The Catholic Encyclopaedia (New York, 1907 onwards).

For the vestment question in the Church of England see the Report of the sub-committee of Convocation on The Ornaments of the Church and its Ministers (1908); Hierurgia Anglicana, documents and extracts illustrative of the ceremonial of the Anglican Church after the Reformation, new ed. revised and enlarged by Vernon Staley (1902-3); J. T. Tomlinson, The Prayer Book, Articles and Homilies (1897), a polemical work from the Protestant point of view, but scholarly and based on a mass of contemporary authorities to which references are given; the bishop of Exeter, The Ornaments Rubric (London, 1901), a pamphlet. For the legal aspect of the question see G. J. Talbot, Modern Decisions on Ritual (London, 1894). (V. A. P.) This is also the view taken by Father J. Braun, S.J., in his paper on liturgical dress in the Church of England, contributed to Stimmen aus Maria-Laach (1910, Heft 7, Freiburg-im-Breisgau). In this he criticizes the bishops' Report in a sympathetic spirit, but points out how intimately the symbolism of the vestments had become associated with the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass, and how logical was the action of the Reformers in rejecting certain of these vestments.

4 He sees in the revival of "vestments" "an energetic condemnation of the English Reformation." He adds that this is, of course, unintentional (allerdings ohne das sein zu wollen). A more intimate acquaintance with the language commonly used by many of the more extreme "Ritualists" would have shown him that there has been, and is, no lack of such intention.

<< Vestini

Gaetano Appolino Baldassare Vestris >>


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address