Clerical Chic

What’s a visit to Rome without spending some time at the shops that sell ecclesiastic vestments. Do you know what surplices and albs are? Or stoles, Battesimo, Chasubles, Paraments or Cassocks. And for nuns, modestini?

Roman Catholic clerical vestments actually derive from ancient secular clothes. Before the age of Constantine, the church viewed secular and religious dress as the same. The rising power of the clergy both within and without the Church gave rise to official dress, and the need to distinguish between station and rank among the clergy.

According to ReligionFacts.com: The ecclesiastical garb first became peculiar in a strict sense when, under the influence of the migration of the Germanic tribes, the costumes as well as the forms of the ancient world passed away and the more convenient medieval dress was substituted, while the Church (and for a longer or shorter period, the upper classes and the higher officials also) clung to Roman or Greek fashions. Under the influence of the discovery by the liturgists of a supposed connection of the liturgical costume with that of Old Testament worship, and then through the effect of custom and of the fashions of the beginning of the Middle Ages, a development was initiated, which did not indeed do away with the traditional usage, but transformed it more or less. Nevertheless, the history of ecclesiastical vestments in the Middle Ages shows no sharp divisions. The Renaissance and rococo periods, on the other hand, strongly asserted their peculiar taste.

The cassock is the daily clothing of the priest. The close fitting, ankle-length robe originated in the classical dress of antiquity. When newer, shorter garments became the style, the clergy continued the older way of dressing.

The stole is a liturgical vestment of various Christian denominations. It consists of a band of colored cloth, formerly usually of silk, about seven and a half to nine feet long and three to four inches wide, whose ends may be straight or may broaden out.

The chasuble is the outermost liturgical vestment worn by clergy for the celebration of the Eucharist in Western-tradition Christian Churches that use full vestments.

Paraments are ecclesiastical vestments and mitres.

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