History of Vestments

The vestments priests wear at Mass have some of their roots in ancient Jewish vestments, but are mostly rooted the clothes of the Roman people.

Origin of Vestments

The Alb comes from the tunic worn as everyday clothes by the Romans.

The Stole comes from a cloth worn by Roman officials as a sign of authority.

The Maniple was originally a type of handkerchief used by the priest.

The Chasuble comes from a type of Roman coat. Unlike other vestments, the Church never officially prescribed the shape the Chasuble. Hence there are many different styles.

Chasuble Styles*

From its earliest the Church has had two styles of Chasubles. There was the longer Northern Conical and the Roman (Southern Conical). The only difference between the two was that the Roman didn’t cover the arms as much. Since the priest’s ability to move his arms for certain prayers the length of the sleeves was gradually shortened. Pope Innocent II in the 12th century is the earliest know example of a Pope wearing a sleeveless (Innocentine) Chasuble. The front of the Chasuble was gradually reshaped into the Fiddleback style. The Gothic style is a modern style partly based on the older Conical styles. * Editor’s Note: This section is entirely a product of the author’s research. It may or may not be entirely accurate.    

Image Gallery

Innocentine Chasuble

Pope Innocent II (wearing an Innocentine Chasuble)








Semi-Conical Chasuble








“Fiddleback” Roman Chasuble








Pope Pius VII wearing an Innocentine Chasuble