About Vestments

An Explanation of Vestments

In the early days of the Church the clergy used no special vestments and they probably wore garments similar to their day-to-day clothes, but set aside particularly for use at the altar.

Many of the early Christians would not have been able to afford the Roman toga and therefore substituted for it a plain conical garment, reaching nearly to the ground, with a hole cut in the apex for the head.

As time went by Roman citizens began to wear this robe on public occasions, so it assumed a character of some solemnity and was naturally chosen as the most proper garment for priests. Subsequently it became rich and sumptuous, with much beautiful embellishment.

ChasubleThe principal vestment and a garment, which may be slipped over the head and is open down each side to give the priest the maximum amount of freedom and movement. It is worn only for Eucharists.
StoleA coloured and embroidered scarf, worn round the neck by the priest. It was originally a sort of towel worn by the deacon over the left shoulder. It is a sign of the priesthood.
ManipleA form of embroidered napkin worn on the left wrist and derived from the towel used for cleansing the vessels. It is rarely used nowadays and is a symbol of service.
CopeA cloak developed from the chasuble for outdoor functions. The front was normally left unsewn and was held together with a clasp or ‘morse’’.
DalmaticThis is a garment with wide sleeves and is worn by deacons and bishops on certain occasions.
VeilA piece of material used to drape over the chalice at Eucharists.
BurseA square ‘board’ which is hinged to open either in a book or a bellow style. It is placed on top of the veil and chalice at a Eucharist.

Colours of the Church

White or GoldFestivals of Our Lord, such as Christmas, Easter Ascension and of the Virgin Mary.
White signifies purity, innocence and holiness.
Gold signifies sun, sovereignty, love and wisdom.
RedPentecost, Whitsun and Festivals of the Apostles and Martyrs.
Red signifies blood and fire.
RoseMay be used on the Fourth (Laetare) Sunday of Lent and the Third (Gaudete) Sunday of Advent.
St Mary’s has suitable vestments.
PurpleAdvent and Lent.
Purple signifies a sign of penance or waiting.
GreenCommon or Ordinary time. Between Candlemas and Lent and between Trinity and Advent.
Green signifies the earth, hope and regeneration.
BlueThis can be used instead of purple.
Blue signifies penance, faith, eternity, and the heavens. It is traditionally the colour of the Virgin’s robe.

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