Priests and Ministers across Canada often get asked what the significance or meaning is of the vestments they wear during Mass or other ceremonies. Many people are curious to know if it is a requirement to wear the priest collar and all of the other attire that are commonly seen in places of worship.
In the early years of Church, vestments worn for liturgies were the same as the clothes worn in ordinary everyday use by the Greek and Roman cultures in the 4th century. Over time, the vestments you see in Church today became distinctive when they no longer matched popular style. Priests and Ministers in Canada continue to wear this distinctive style of garment as a symbol of the history and background of Christianity.
The current traditional clergy apparel worn includes the amice, alb, cincture, stole, and the chasuble.
This optional piece, worn under the alb, is a rectangular cloth placed over the shoulders. The cloth is tucked in around the neck, over the priest’s street clothing and secured around the waist using two cloth ribbons. Although it is not a mandatory piece, it does have practical uses. It can be used as a scarf to keep the priest’s neck warm in the cold and can also protect expensive embroidered pieces from sweat and body oils.
Worn over the amice, the alb symbolizes the garment of the newly baptized, also the purity of soul required for Mass, and the garment in which Pilate clothed Christ.
This cord is used as a belt to gather the alb at the waist. It is most often white, but can be the colour of the day or liturgical season. White, violet or black is permitted to be worn at funerals.
A long narrow strip of cloth, worn about the neck and down the front of the priest, usually over the alb. The stole is an article of enormous importance as it indicates the state of ordained office. Like the cincture, the stole can be the colour of the day, or liturgical season.
This is the outer and the last piece of the vesture, and is the colour of the day or the liturgical season. The traditional symbolism of the chasuble is that it represents charity covering a multitude of sins.
As you can see, there is a great deal of history and significance tied up in the clothing worn by priests. In order to best represent their church, it is important for priests and clergy to have high quality, well-fitting tailored robes. Harcourts is one of the oldest manufacturers of clergy vestments in North America, with a reputation for excellent workmanship and tailoring. Our design team individually cuts, sews, and tailors our vestments and robes to provide a perfect fit. Request a quote today and discover the Harcourts difference.