Men's Ecclesiastical Clothing

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Men's Ecclesiastical Clothing

Men's Ecclesiastical Clothing

The clothes, or 'vestments', a priest wore during a church service were like a uniform, carefully described in a series of documents over the centuries. 'Off duty' a priest would wear the 'civilian' clothes appropriate to his rank, but his 'working clothes' were as follows.

Alb

The alb was a long white tunic reaching to the ankles and with long sleeves, made from white linen or wool. It was worn by all ranks. The alb was held in at the waist by an ordinary belt. In winter normal clothes would be worn under the alb to keep warm.

Acolyte wearing an Alb AD 793-1215 (All Periods)

Acolyte wearing an Alb
AD 793-1215 (All Periods)
by Martin Williams (AT}

Amice

The amice was a simple scarf of white linen or wool, worn under the alb. Priests with long hair could put the amice on like a shawl to cover their heads, put on all their vestments, then push the amice back around the neck.

Chasuble

The chasuble was a conical cape of wool made from a semi circle stitched along the straight edge, with a hole for the head to go through. The seams were reinforced with decorated strips of material called 'orphreys', which were arranged to hang vertically front and back. The quarter circles had a radius of four to five feet. Common colours were green and purple, with white, red and dark brown (referred to as black) being reserved for special days. The chasuble was worn by all clerics except deacons.

Stole

Worn only by ordained clergy, the stole was a long strip of decorated silk or linen, three or four inches wide and about eight feet long, with a fringe two or three inches long at each end. It was worn around the neck to hang down at the front, reaching to the shins.

Bishop wearing a Stole AD 793-1041 (Very Early to Mid)

Bishop wearing a Stole
AD 793-1041 (Very Early to Mid)
by Martin Williams (AT}

Dalmatic

This garment was a wool or linen tunic reaching the knee, with baggy, elbow length sleeves and side slits up to the waist to allow free movement. Two stripes, about two inches wide and ten inches apart, ran up the front (and probably down the back). Colours were similar to the chasuble, but not necessarily the same. The bishop also wore a small mitre. The Saxon mitre is quite different from the towering hat of modern bishops and was little more than a cap. Apart from his mitre, a bishop also had a ring (usually set with an amethyst) and a staff. Both were marks of his office. The bishop's staff was four to five feet high, with an ornately carved head. The head was hook-shaped, in the shape of a T or Tau cross, or alternatively just a ball.

Deacon wearing a Dalmatic AD 793-980 (Very Early to Early)

Deacon wearing a Dalmatic
AD 793-980 (Very Early to Early)
by Martin Williams (AT}

Scapular

Cistercian Monk wearing a Scapular AD 1128-1215 (Very Late to Angevin)

Cistercian Monk wearing a Scapular
AD 1128-1215 (Very Late to Angevin)
by Martin Williams (AT}


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