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Liturgical Vestments of the Clergy


"ANO TAWAG SA SUOT NG PARI?"(What do call that Priest's vestment?) This is a commonly asked question that Catholics ask because they do not know what to call the clothing that is being worn by the clergy. The purpose of this lecture is to educate us on litugical vestments.

The word "vestment" comes from the Latin. It simply means clothing. Now, it is generally used to represent the garments that are worn by the ministers of religion in the performance of their sacred duties.

They are worn by the priest when he is "on duty," while he is exercising the functions of his ministry and using the sacred powers which he received at his ordination. The clothing that is worn by the priest while he is not "on duty," it is not called vestments.

The Mass vestments were originally ordinary garments of the ancient Roman world. While the the fashions of dressing have changed with the passing centuries, the priest continued to wear at the altar the ancient Roman costume of his predecessors.

Vestments are sacramentals. That means they are set apart and blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to increase devotion in those who see and those who use them.


Description: The alb is a long, white linen liturgical vestment with tapered sleeves.

Purpose:It is a garment (or robe) that is worn by the priest under the chausable during the Holy Mass.

Symbolism:It symbolizes the innocence and purity that should adorn the soul of the priest who ascends the altar.

Who uses it? deacons, priests, bishops

Is it still in use nowadays? Very much.However, Religious priests may wear their habit tapos papatungan ng chausuble kasi it will serve as alba na.

Trivia:While it is white in the Western Church, it can be of any color in the Eastern Church.


Description:A short linen cloth, square or oblong in shape. It measures 36" x 24" with two 36" strings of twill tape.

Purpose:. To cover the shoulders, and originally also the head. Ang practical purpose nito ay ang protectahan ang other vestments para hindi agad madumihan at mapawisan. Ang dumi at pawis ay mapupunta sa amice.

Symbolism:The amice is associated with the "helm of salvation." While putting it on, the priest would say, "Lord, give me strength to conquer the temptations of the devil."

Who uses it? deacons, priests, bishops

Is it still in use nowadays? Many of the older religious orders still wear the amice after the fashion which prevailed in the Middle Ages; that is to say, the amice is first laid over the head and the ends allowed to fall upon the shoulders, then the other vestments from the alb to the chasuble are put on, and finally, on reaching the altar, the priest folds back the amice from the head, so that it hangs around the neck and over the chasuble like a small cowl.

On leaving the sanctuary, the amice is again pulled up over the head, and thus both in coming and going it serves as a head-covering in lieu of the modern birretta. This method of wearing the amice has fallen into desuetude for the clergy at large, and the only surviving trace of it is the rubric directing that, in putting it on, the amice should for a moment be laid upon the head before it is adjusted round the neck. Although may gumagamit pa din, karamihan hindi na nila ginagamit. Anyway, magagaling naman mga Mother Butlers.


Description:The biretta is a square cap with three or four ridges or peaks, sometimes surmounted by a tuft, traditionally worn by Roman Catholic clergy and some Anglican and Lutheran clergy.

Purpose: To cover the head (headgear) in non-liturgical occasions and also used in praying in the choir. Color coded din ‘yan Ex. Black for priests.

Symbolism: It is a symbol of office or dignity but it is not exclusive of the clergy because nobles, judges and University doctors may use it as well

Who uses it? seminarians, deacons, priests, bishops. The Pope does not make use of the biretta, instead wearing the more ancient camauro (later described), which Pope Benedict XVI has brought back into use.

Is it still in use nowadays? The use of the biretta has not been abolished as a result of changes in the regulation of clerical dress and vesture following the Vat. II and still remains the correct liturgical headgear for those in Holy Orders whilst 'in choir', but its use has been made optional. It is occasionally seen today, and is often only used by bishops and cardinals. Some priests wear it during outdoor services such as burials or processions and, as is intended, during the celebration of Mass and other liturgical services. The biretta is also worn by a priest, deacon, and bishop in attendance at a Mass offered according to the rubrics for the Roman Missal of 1962.


Description: The camauro is the crimson velvet cap trimmed with white ermine, worn by the Pope, instead of the biretta, on non-liturgical occasions.
Purpose:Papal headgear for non liturgical occasions and also used in praying in the choir.

Symbolism:It symbolizes authority/office.

Who uses it? Only the Pope

Is it still in use nowadays? Yes.

Description: It is a liturgical vestment, which may conveniently be described as a very long mantle or cloak, open in front and fastened at the breast with a band or clasp. It may be of any liturgical colour.

Purpose: The cope is used, for example, in processions, in the greater blessings and consecrations, at the solemnly celebrated Liturgy of the Hours, in giving Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and the celebration of other sacraments outside of Mass.

Symbolism:It symbolizes authority/office.

Who uses it? A cope may be worn by any rank of the clergy. If worn by a bishop it should be accompanied by a mitre. The often highly ornamented clasp is called a morse.

Is it still in use nowadays? Yes. It was worn in choir during the Divine Office by the clergy of cathedral churches and by many religious, and is still retained by the Dominicans during winter months. Here at Angelicum, we wear the cappa from November 2 til Easter Sunday but it is already a part of our full habit. The Prior of Sto. Domingo Convent (QC) wears an ornate cappa during the blessing of Palms and sometimes during the incensation of the image of La Naval.


Description: The mantum or papal mantle differs little from an ordinary cope except that it is somewhat longer, and is fastened in the front by an elaborate morse.

Purpose and Symbolism: In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the immantatio, or bestowal of the mantum on the newly elected pope, was regarded as specially symbolical of investiture with papal authority: Investio te de papatu romano ut praesis urbi et orbi, "I invest you with the Roman papacy, that you may rule over the city and the world" were the words used in conferring it at the Papal Coronation. Because of Vatican II, the use of the mantum was uncommon toward the end of the 20th Century.

Who uses it? Only the Pope

Is it still in use nowadays? Rarely used.


Description: The cappa magna (literally, "great cape") is a voluminous ecclesiastical garment with a long train.

Purpose and Symbolism: The cappa magna is not strictly a liturgical vestment, but only a glorified cappa choralis, or choir cope. That is to say, it is not used when vested as a celebrant at a liturgical service. It is worn in processions or "in choir" (i.e., attending but not celebrating services).

Who uses it? Cardinals, bishops, and certain other honorary prelates. No longer mandatory (and therefore rare), the cappa magna was never abolished and still appears in the Ceremonial of Bishops. Ordinarily scarlet for cardinals and purple for bishops, the garment dates to the first millennium and its train has varied in length over the ages.

Is it still in use nowadays? Rarely used.


Description: A cappello romano, meaning Roman hat, is a hat with a wide, circular brim and a rounded rim worn by the clergy. It is made of either beaver fur or felt, and lined in white silk.

Purpose and Symbolism: It serves no ceremonial purpose, being primarily a practical item.

Who uses it? Seminarians, Deacons, Priests, Bishops. The pope wears a red cappello with gold cords. All other clerics wear black cappelli. A cardinal may have a cappello with red and gold cords with scarlet lining. A bishop's may have green and gold cords with violet lining. A priest may substitute black lining for his. Cappelli worn by deacons and seminarians have no distinguishing items.

Is it still in use nowadays? The wearing of it is optional, but it is never worn during services. It is generally uncommon outside of Rome today.


Description: The cassock, also known as a soutane, comes in a number of styles or cuts, though no particular symbolism attaches to these.

Purpose and Symbolism: There are two types of cassock: the ordinary cassock and the choir cassock. A band cincture or fascia is also worn with both types of cassocks. The ordinary cassock is the black cassock worn by most clerics. Choir dress cassocks for bishops, protonotaries apostolic, and honorary prelates are purple.

Who uses it? Seminarians, Deacons, Priests, Bishops

Is it still in use nowadays? Yes.


Description: The chasuble is the vestment that is put on over all the others during Liturgical services. Originally this was a very full garment, shaped like a bell and reaching almost to the feet all the way round.

Purpose and Symbolism: Used in eucharistic celebrations. The Chasuble symbolizes the virtue of charity, and the yoke of unselfish service for the Lord, which the priest assumes at ordination.

Who uses it? Priests and Bishops

Is it still in use nowadays? Yes.


Description: The chimere is a sleeveless gown, usually of red, but sometimes of black material of quality and derived from the Spanish word "Zammarvia" that means "riding cloak." It is an upper robe of a Bishop.

Purpose and Symbolism: This garment serves as a symbol of the mantle of a prophet. The chimere is only worn by the Bishop because it signifies him as chief proclaimer and defender of the faith in the apostolic tradition.

Who uses it? Only Bishops

Is it still in use nowadays? Uncommon.


Description: The cincture is the cord used as a belt to gird the Alb.

Purpose and Symbolism: It symbolizes the virtues of chastity and continence (meaning "the exercise of self constraint in sexual matters") required of the priest.

Who uses it? priests and bishops

Is it still in use nowadays? Occasionally.


Description: The word "crosier" comes from the Latin word "crocia" which means "crook or bend."

Purpose and Symbolism: It is a Pastoral Staff, the symbol of authority and jurisdiction. This ecclesiastical ornament is conferred on bishops at their consecration and on mitred abbots at their investiture. It is used by these prelates in performing certain solemn functions.

Who uses it? Bishops and Abbots

Is it still in use nowadays? Yes.


Description: The dalmatic is an outer, sleeved tunic that came to Rome from Dalmatia, whence its name. It is worn in place of the chasuble, by the deacon during Solemn Mass.

Purpose and Symbolism: It symbolizes the joy and happiness that are the fruit of dedication to God.

Who uses it? Only deacons

Is it still in use nowadays? Yes.

Description: The Pope's ring, known as the Fisherman's Ring, is used as the personal and unique seal of that reigning Pontiff. It is destroyed when he dies. Cardinals make use of the cardinalatial ring bestowed upon them at consistory, and bishops use the episcopal ring bestowed upon them at their consecration. It should be noted that the Pope is the Bishop of Rome.
Purpose and Symbolism: Symbol of authority

Who uses it? Bishops (including the Pope)

Is it still in use nowadays? Yes.


Description: The fanon is a shoulder cape that only the pope wears. It consist of two pieces of white silk ornamented with narrow woven stripes of red and gold. It is nearly circular in shape with a round hole in the middle for the head to pass through, and with a small gold cross embroidered in front. It is worn over the alb, and only at solemn pontifical Mass.

Who uses it? Only the Pope

Is it still in use nowadays? Yes.

Description: The ferraiolo is a full cape, now almost completely out of style, worn by clerics in abito piano. It is scarlet watered silk for a cardinal, violet silk for a bishop, violet wool for a protonotary apostolic, and black wool for any other degree of cleric. The Pope does not make use of a ferraiolo.
Who uses it? Deacons, priests and bishops
Is it still in use nowadays? No more.

Description: The gauntlets are the liturgical gloves that are an option for bishops to use during liturgical celebrations (as celebrant or concelebrant, not in choir). They are made of silk, and extend partially past the wrist. They can match the liturgical color, or can be always white. The gauntlets, like so many vestments, developed out of necessity to help keep the hands of the bishops warm during liturgical ceremonies in cold, stone churches. Since they became optional after Vatican II, the gauntlets are today seen only very rarely.
Who uses it? Bishops
Is it still in use nowadays? Rarely

Description: Gloves used by clerics must always be black, and are not used during a liturgical celebration. The master of ceremonies alone may make use of white gloves, and is the only one allowed gloves while vested in choir. The Pope also uses white.
Who uses it? Priests, Bishops, and the Pope
Is it still in use nowadays? Rarely

Description: The Humeral Veil is worn so as to cover the back and shoulders (where it gets its name) and its two ends hang down in front. To prevent its falling from the shoulders, it is fastened across the chest with clasps or ribbons attached to the border.
Purpose and Symbolism: The Humeral Veil is worn by the priest or deacon in processions of the Blessed Sacrament, in giving Benediction, in carrying the Host to its repository on Holy Thursday, and bringing it back to the altar on Good Friday. In processions of the Blessed Sacrament and at Benediction given with the monstrance, only the hands are placed under the humeral veil; in other cases, it covers the sacred vessel which contains the Host. The Humeral Veil is usually and properly some shade of white (from ivory to white is acceptable).
Who uses it? deacons, priests and bishops
Is it still in use nowadays? Yes.


Description: The manipule is an ornamental vestment of colored silk or damask over the left forearms. Originally this vestment was a handkerchief carried in the left hand or thrown over the left arm.

Purpose and Symbolism: It symbolizes the labor and hardship the priest must expect in his ardent apostolate.

Who uses it? Priests and Bishops

Is it still in use nowadays? Occasionally


The mantelletta, while formerly worn by all bishops and some of the monsignori, is now only used by the seven protonotaries apostolic de numero. It is a short, violet mantle with slits for the arms, worn over the rochet and choir cassock.


Description: The mitre is the common headdress of bishops, worn at liturgical functions. It is either precious, golden (orphreyed), or simple (simplex). The precious mitre is worn by celebrants, the simple by concelebrants, and the golden by the celebrant at an ordination. All the cardinals wear a damasked mitre (simplex) in presence of the Pope. It is very tall, and is made of layered white damask silk.

Purpose and Symbolism: Episcopal authority

Who uses it? Bishops and Abbots

Is it still in use nowadays? Yes.


The mozzetta is the short shoulder-cape worn by bishops over the choir cassock and rochet in choir dress. It is made of the same material and color as the cassock. Is it still in use nowadays?:. Yes.


The pallium is only worn by archbishops, patriarchs, and the Pope, as symbol of the authority of metropolitan. It is a thin band of white wool worn around the neck with extensions front and back. It has black crosses on it, and is pinned to the chasuble in three places around the neck.
Is it still in use nowadays?:.Yes.


The staff, used by the Popes in place of a crozier since Pope Paul VI (died 1978), were silver color with a crucifix and corpus at the top. Throughout history, the Popes have not used the Pastoral Staff. Only since Pope Paul VI have they used it.


The pectoral cross is a small cross, usually about 6 inches in height, worn around the neck of a bishop and suspended by either the cord (in liturgical vestments or choir) or the chain (in abito piano). The cord is scarlet and gold for a cardinal; green and gold for a bishop.


The rochet is a knee-length, white vestment worn over the choir cassock by bishops in choir. It is often, but not necessarily, very fancy with lace and linen. It is not interchangeable with the surplice, contrary to the belief of many bishops. It is distinct from the surplice not in the level of decoration, but in the sleeve: the sleeve of a rochet, like an alb, fits flush against the choir cassock; the sleeve of a surplice is fuller, and often bell-shaped.


Description: The simar (or zimarra), is only worn by the ranks of the episcopate. It is the most common dress for a bishop. It resembles a cassock in many respects, but it is not properly a cassock, as it has in addition to it a shoulder-cape of the same material and color. It is always black (except for the Pope), and the trim is scarlet for cardinals and amaranth-red for bishops.


Description: Roman magistrates wore a long scarf when engaged in their official duties, just as our judges wear a court gown. Whenever a priest celebrates Mass or administers the Sacraments, he wears the stole as a sign that he is occupied with an official priestly duty. When placing the stole about his neck, in vesting for Mass, the priest begs God to give him on the last day the 'garment of immortality' that was forfeited by our sinful first parents.

Who uses it? deacons (diagonal), priests and bishops

Is it still in use nowadays?Yes.


The surplice, like the rochet, is a knee-length, white vestment worn over the choir cassock, but by priests, deacons, and seminarians rather than bishops. It is typically simple in design, but can be very fancy. It is distinct from the rochet not in the level of decoration, but in the sleeve: the sleeve of a rochet, like an alb, fits flush against the choir cassock; the sleeve of a surplice is fuller, and often bell-shaped.


The triregno, or Papal tiara, is the triple crown reserved to Popes. No Pope since Pope Paul VI (died 1978) has been crowned with it, and no Pope since John XXIII (died 1963) has made use of it. The tiara developed from the mitre. The three crowns are symbolic of the Pope's three-fold powers: potestas magisterii, potestas regimini, and potestas ministerii. [Meaning: "teaching, sanctifying, and governing."]

The zucchetto is the silk skullcap worn by the Catholic clergy. It is white for the Pope, scarlet for a cardinal, and violet for a bishop. Priests may use a black cloth zucchetto for everyday wear, but not during the liturgy.

Without a doubt, clerics are, indeed, MEN OF THE CLOTH.

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