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Liturgical Vestments and the Vesting Prayers for Priests

A priest vesting for the Eucharistic celebration is accompanied by prayers for each garment. This is the norm for the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (the so-called Mass of Pius V, Latin Mass or Tridentine mass).

Such prayers are no longer obligatory but neither are they prohibited. It is recommended in the 1969 Missal of the ordinary form promulgated by Paul VI. They help in the priest's preparation and recollection before the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Functions and Significance of the Liturgical Vestments
1.     It helps one to be detached from the everyday concerns (since they are not worn in ordinary activities).
2.     It puts the individuality of the one who wears them in order to emphasize his liturgical role.
3.     It is a statement that the liturgy is celebrated "in persona Christi" and not in the priest's own name.

The Vestments and the Prayers

1) WASHING OF HANDS: Before vesting proper, the priest washed his hands not only for hygienic purpose, but a signification of the passage from the profane to the sacred.

Scriptural Reference: Washing the Hands is equivalent to removing the sandals before the burning bush (cf. Exodus 3:5).

Prayer: "Da, Domine, virtutem manibus meis ad abstergendam omnem maculam; ut sine pollutione mentis et corporis valeam tibi servire" (Give virtue to my hands, O Lord, that being cleansed from all stain I might serve you with purity of mind and body).


Definition: The amice is a rectangular linen cloth, which has two strings and is placed over the shoulders and around the neck; the strings are then tied about the waist.

It has the purpose of covering the everyday clothing, even if it is the priest's clerical garb including the modern alb, which often does not have a large opening at the neck but fits closely around the collar.

The 2008 General Instructions on the Roman Missal [GIRM] (no. 336) permits the amice to be dispensed with when the alb is made in such a way that it completely covers the collar, hiding the street clothes. In fact, however, it rarely happens that the collar is not seen, even partially; hence, the recommendation to use the amice in any case.

Scriptural Reference: The amice is understood as "the helmet of salvation," (Eph 6:17) that must protect its wearer from the demonic temptations, especially evil thoughts and desires, during the liturgical celebration. This symbolism is clearer in the custom followed by the Benedictines, Franciscans and Dominicans, who first put the amice upon their heads and then let it fall upon the chasuble or dalmatic.

Prayer: In the Roman Rite, the amice is donned before the alb. While putting it on the priest recites the following prayer: "Impone, Domine, capiti meo galeam salutis, ad expugnandos diabolicos incursus" (Place upon me, O Lord, the helmet of salvation, that I may overcome the assaults of the devil).


Definition: It is the long white garment worn by the sacred ministers, which recalls the new and immaculate clothing that every Christian has received through baptism.

Scriptural Reference: The alb (from latin, albus = white) is a symbol of the sanctifying grace received in the first sacrament and is also considered to be a symbol of the purity of heart that is necessary to enter into the joy of the eternal vision of God in heaven (cf. Matthew 5:8).

Prayer : The prayer is a reference to Revelation 7:14: "Dealba me, Domine, et munda cor meum; ut, in sanguine Agni dealbatus, gaudiis perfruar sempiternis" (Make me white, O Lord, and cleanse my heart; that being made white in the Blood of the Lamb I may deserve an eternal reward).

Note: Religious priest oftentimes wear the habit instead of alb and cinture. However, they can always use the alb.


Definition: Over the alb and around the waist is placed the girdle or cincture, a cord made of wool or other suitable material that is used as a belt. All those who wear albs must also wear the cincture (frequently today this traditional custom is not followed).

GIRM no. 336 allows the cincture to be dispensed with if the alb is made in such a way that it fits closely to the body without the cincture. Despite this concession, it is important to recognize: a) the traditional and symbolic value of the cincture; b) the fact that the alb only fits snugly to the body with difficulty and the traditional style remains absolutely preferable.

Scriptural reference: The cincture represents the virtue of self-mastery, which St. Paul also counts among the fruits of the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22).

Prayer: It is based on 1Peter 1:13. "Praecinge me, Domine, cingulo puritatis, et exstingue in lumbis meis humorem libidinis; ut maneat in me virtus continentiae et castitatis" (Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity, and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may abide in me).


Definition: It is an article of liturgical dress used in the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Holy Mass of the Roman Rite. It fell into disuse after Vat. II, even though it was never abrogated. The maniple is similar to the stole but is not as long: It is fixed in the middle with a clasp or strings similar to those of the chasuble.

During the celebration of the Holy Mass in the extraordinary form, the celebrant, the deacon and the subdeacon wear the maniple on their left forearm.

It perhaps derives from a handkerchief, or "mappula," that the Romans wore knotted on their left arm. As the "mappula" was used to wipe away tears or sweat, medieval ecclesiastical writers regarded the maniple as a symbol of the toils of the priesthood.

Scriptural Reference: Psalm 125:5-6: " They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Going they went and wept, casting their seeds, but coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their maniples.”

Prayer: "Merear, Domine, portare manipulum fletus et doloris; ut cum exsultatione recipiam mercedem laboris" (May I deserve, O Lord, to bear the maniple of weeping and sorrow in order that I may joyfully reap the reward of my labors).


Definition: It is the distinctive element of the vestment of the ordained minister and it is always worn in the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals. It is a strip of material that is embroidered, according to the norm, whose color varies with respect to the liturgical season or feast day. It must never be omitted.

Together with the cincture and the maniple, the stole symbolizes the bonds and fetters with which Jesus was bound during his Passion.

Prayer: "Redde mihi, Domine, stolam immortalitatis, quam perdidi in praevaricatione primi parentis; et, quamvis indignus accedo ad tuum sacrum mysterium, merear tamen gaudium sempiternum" (Lord, restore the stole of immortality, which I lost through the collusion of our first parents, and, unworthy as I am to approach Thy sacred mysteries, may I yet gain eternal joy).


Definition: It is the vestment proper to the one who celebrates the Holy Mass. It is called "casulla" in Spanish.

Prayer and Scriptural References: Based on Col 3:14 and Mt, 11:30: "Domine, qui dixisti: Iugum meum suave est, et onus meum leve: fac, ut istud portare sic valeam, quod consequar tuam gratiam. Amen" (O Lord, who has said, "My yoke is sweet and My burden light," grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace).

While it is possible to use different prayers, or simply to lift one's mind up to God, nevertheless the texts of the vesting prayers are brief, precise in their language, inspired by a biblical spirituality and have been prayed for centuries by countless sacred ministers. These prayers thus recommend themselves still today for the preparation for the liturgical celebration, even for the liturgy according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite. 

By vesting properly, a priest because physically, psychologically, and spiritually prepare for the sanctity of the mystery that will unfold.

Vesting Prayers

When the amice is placed over his head, he says :
Impone, Domine, capiti meo galeam salutis, ad expugnandos diabolicos incursus.

When he puts on the alb :
Dealba me, Domine, et munda cor meum; ut, in sanguine Agni dealbatus, gaudiis perfruar sempiternis.

When he binds himself with the cincture :
Praecinge me, Domine, cingulo puritatis, et extingue in lumbis meis humorem libidinis; ut maneat in me virtus continentiae et castitatis.

When he places the maniple on his left arm:
Merear, Domine, portare manipulum fletus et doloris; ut cum exsultatione recipiam mercedem laboris.

When he places the stole around his neck:
Redde mihi, Domine, stolam immortalitatis, quam perdidi in praevaricatione primi parentis; et, quamvis indignus accedo ad tuum sacrum mysterium, merear tamen gaudium sempiternum.

When he puts on the chasuble:
Domine, qui dixisti: Jugum meum suave est et onus meum leve: fac, ut istud portare sic valeam, quod consequar tuam gratiam. Amen.


“Liturgical Vestments and the Vesting Prayers” from Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff

"Compendium Eucharisticum," recently published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

1962 "Missale Romanum" of Bl. John XXIII (Harrison, NY: Roman Catholics Books, 1996), p. lx.

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, "Redemptionis Sacramentum", March 25, 2004.


Provisions on the Sacred Vestments from the General Instructions of the Roman Missal

335. In the Church, which is the the Body of Christ, not all members have the same office. This variety of offices in the celebration of the Eucharist is shown outwardly by the diversity of sacred vestments, which should therefore be a sign of the office proper to each minister. At the same time, however, the sacred vestments should also contribute to the beauty of the sacred action itself. It is appropriate that the vestments to be worn by priests and deacons, as well as those garments to be worn by lay ministers, be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual137 before they put into liturgical use.

336. The sacred garment common to ordained and instituted ministers of any rank is the alb, to be tied at the waist with a cincture unless it is made so as to fit even without such. Before the alb is put on, should this not completely cover the ordinary clothing at the neck, an amice should be put on. The alb may not be replaced by a surplice, not even over a cassock, on occasions when a chasuble or dalmatic is to be worn or when, according to the norms, only a stole is worn without a chasuble or dalmatic.

337. The vestment proper to the priest celebrant at Mass and other sacred actions directly connected with Mass is, unless otherwise indicated, the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole.

338. The vestment proper to the deacon is the dalmatic, worn over the alb and stole. The dalmatic may, however, be omitted out of necessity or on account of a lesser degree of solemnity.

339. In the dioceses of the United States of America, acolytes, altar servers, lectors, and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other suitable vesture or other appropriate and dignified clothing.

340. The stole is worn by the priest around his neck and hanging down in front. It is worn by the deacon over his left shoulder and drawn diagonally across the chest to the right side, where it is fastened.

341. The cope is worn by the priest in processions and other sacred actions, in keeping with the rubrics proper to each rite.

342. Regarding the design of sacred vestments, Conferences of Bishops may determine and propose to the Apostolic See adaptations that correspond to the needs and the usages of their regions.138

343. In addition to the traditional materials, natural fabrics proper to each region may be used for making sacred vestments; artificial fabrics that are in keeping with the dignity of the sacred action and the person wearing them may also be used. The Conference of Bishops will be the judge in this matter.139

344. It is fitting that the beauty and nobility of each vestment derive not from abundance of overly lavish ornamentation, but rather from the material that is used and from the design. Ornamentation on vestments should, moreover, consist of figures, that is, of images or symbols, that evoke sacred use, avoiding thereby anything unbecoming.

345. The purpose of a variety in the color of the sacred vestments is to give effective expression even outwardly to the specific character of the mysteries of faith being celebrated and to a sense of Christian life's passage through the course of the liturgical year.

346. As to the color of sacred vestments, the traditional usage is to be retained: namely,

White is used in the Offices and Masses during the Easter and Christmas seasons; also on celebrations of the Lord other than of his Passion, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Holy Angels, and of Saints who were not Martyrs; on the Solemnities of All Saints (1 November) and of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist (24 June); and on the Feasts of Saint John the Evangelist (27 December), of the Chair of Saint Peter (22 February), and of the Conversion of Saint Paul (25 January). 

Red is used on Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion and on Good Friday, on Pentecost Sunday, on celebrations of the Lord's Passion, on the feasts of the Apostles and Evangelists, and on celebrations of Martyr Saints.

Green is used in the Offices and Masses of Ordinary Time. 

Violet or purple is used in Advent and of Lent. It may also be worn in Offices and Masses for the Dead (cf. below). 

Besides violet, white or black vestments may be worn at funeral services and at other Offices and Masses for the Dead in the Dioceses of the United States of America.

Rose may be used, where it is the practice, on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent). 

On more solemn days, sacred vestments may be used that are festive, that is, more precious, even if not of the color of the day.

Gold or silver colored vestments may be worn on more solemn occasions in the dioceses of the United States of America.347. Ritual Masses are celebrated in their proper color, in white, or in a festive color; Masses for Various Needs, on the other hand, are celebrated in the color proper to the day or the season or in violet if they are of a penitential character, for example, no. 31 (in Time of War or Conflict), no. 33 (in Time of Famine), or no. 38 (for the Forgiveness of Sins); Votive Masses are celebrated in the color suited to the Mass itself or even in the color proper to the day or the season.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. For anyone trys to change anything on the traditional catholic pre 1950 mass is to procure the judgement of the anger of God to the fires of he'll for all eternity. No one had a right to do so decread by the divine law and dogma of the magjastariam of the holy catholic church. To do so would procure excommunication as an apostate and would clearly be an anathema. This is to the rites prayers vessels and vestments and holy acts to the glory of Jesus Christ and holy spirit and holy Father.


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