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Bible Dictionaries

The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia


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It has been pointed out that "The clergy and all who act ministerially in divine service are clad in surplices and other vestments, not that they may have a decent and uniform appearance in sight of the congregation, but as wearing robes distinctive of their office in ministering before Him whom they worship." In this statement we have a rationale, so to speak, of the use of vestments, and it is a very striking fact that such use has universally prevailed in the Historic Churches from the most ancient times. (See EUCHARISTIC VESTMENTS.) Of the vestments thus worn in the Church's services there are first the Eucharistic Vestments, namely:

THE AMICE, is a broad linen band richly embroidered, first placed on the head and then dropped on the shoulders as a covering for the neck and is intended to symbolize the Helmet of Salvation. It also symbolizes the linen cloth with which the Jews blindfolded our Lord.

THE ALB, a long white linen garment with narrow sleeves tied at the waist by a white cord. It is emblematic of purity and innocence and also of the ministerial office. It also represents the white garment in which Herod clothed our Saviour.

THE GIRDLE, used to confine the Alb at the waist, is emblematic of the work of the Lord, to perform which the sacred ministers gird up, as it were, their loins. The girdle, and also the stole and maniple are intended to represent the cords and fetters with which the officers bound Jesus in His Passion.

THE MANIPLE is a scarf like a short stole, worn on the left arm over the sleeve of the Alb by the Celebrant. It is made of silk, with a fringe and embroidered with three crosses.

THE STOLE (which see). When used at the Celebration it is worn crossed on the breast and kept in place by the girdle. Like the girdle and maniple, it symbolizes the ropes or bands with which our Lord was bound to the pillar when He was scourged.

THE CHASUBLE is a circular cloak worn over the Alb and hanging from the shoulders. It is universally called "the Vestment" because it is the characteristic Eucharistic robe of all Christendom and has been so from the earliest age of the Church. The rationale is thus given: "The over-vesture or chasuble as touching the mystery signifieth the purple mantle that Pilate's soldiers put upon Christ after that they had scourged Him. And as touching the Minister, it signifieth charity, a virtue excellent above all others."

Other vestments worn by the clergy are the cassock, the surplice, biretta, hood, and when assisting at the Holy Communion, the Dalmatic and Tunicle; and by Bishops, the chimere, rochet, mitre and cope (this last may also be worn by a Priest); each of which is described under its proper head, to which the reader is referred.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'Vestments'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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