About Some Lesser Known Clerical Garments

About Some Lesser Known Clerical Garments

Mar 22nd 2023

Everyone’s heard of the term “clergy robes” or “liturgical vestments,” but not everyone knows what they are or what they mean, or even what they look like.

Especially lesser-known clerical garments like these.

Clergy Aprons

The clergy apron looks like the secular apron; it is like a short cassock that reaches just to the knee or just short of it. It was once largely worn by Anglican bishops (purple) and archdeacons (black). Clergy aprons are sleeveless and allow more freedom of movement, making them more practical than true cassocks.


The cassock might be more recognizable than the clergy apron and is a full-length garment worn by members of the clergy. It has long sleeves and reaches to the ankles. Typically, cassocks were colored black, but today cassocks are also made in a wider range of colors, including white, purple, and red.

For a more thorough History of the Cassock, see the previous link.

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The cincture is a cloth belt or girdle that encircles the cassock. It can also be used to girdle a camice. The cincture typically takes the color of the garment it overlays.


The amice is a square piece of cloth that is fixed about the neck and waist, either by ribbons. It is a linen habiliment and is usually white.


The chasuble is like a short cape or mantle that is worn over the shoulders of a celebrant. They are made in a variety of colors to suit the liturgical calendar or the office of the celebrant.


The alb is a white gown, usually made of cotton or linen, that reaches the ankles. The alb can be worn by acolytes and anyone else that partakes in the liturgical procession and is not reserved for ordained members of the clergy.


The chimere is a descendant of the riding cloak and is a sleeveless garment that is worn over the rochet by Anglican bishops as a part of choir dress. It has also historically been a component of academic dress.


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The surplice is a short white cotton or linen garment with wide sleeves and (usually) a square-yoked neck. The surplice is like the alb but the surplice reaches only to the waist or knees. It can be worn by priests, over the cassock (a cassock and surplice) but it can also be worn by altar servers, choristers, and acolytes.


The rochet is another white vestment, typically made of cotton or linen, and once again similar in appearance to the surplice or alb. It is usually worn in the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches by bishops as a part of choir dress.


Not just the capital of Morocco, a rabat is also a sleeveless, backless garment, not entirely unlike a vest, which is worn by the clergy member under the clerical collar. It extends to the waste and may serve in place of a clergy shirt.


The dalmatic is the most ornate and elaborate outer vestment worn by a celebrant that has been worn since Roman times. It is an ornately decorated outer vestment, often enriched with gold thread and precious stones. It is a knee-length garment with wide sleeves and is produced in many colors.


The mitre is an elaborate headdress worn by bishops, often decorated with gold thread and precious stones, similar to a dalmatic. Often they are made with two bands of fabric that fall over the shoulders.


The tunic is similar to the dalmatic but a tunic can be worn by deacons and other similar subordinate offices. Though less ornate than a dalmatic, a tunic can be decorated with precious stones, embroidery, and fine fabrics.


The clergy stole is a type of scarf, made of cloth, and usually embellished with three crosses. It may have originated from the orarium, or as a type of cloth or silk napkin worn by secular nobles. It can be made in a variety of different colors of liturgical significance. It is worn over the shoulders with the ends hanging in front of the wearer.

                       clergy apron


The tippet is similar to a stole and is worn in the same fashion, although tippets are customarily less ornately decorates than clerical stoles.


The pallium is a strip of white woolen cloth worn over the shoulders. This is one you will not often see, as it is reserved for the Pope and select bishops and archbishops. It represents the shepherd’s carriage of a sheep about the neck and shoulders.

Learn More About Clerical Collars, Clergy Aprons, Cassocks and Cinctures, And Other Clerical Attire

Interested in learning more about clergy aprons, ladies' clergy dresses, and other clerical garments and liturgical vestments?

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