A lot of pieces that are worn by members of the clergy are soaked in history and meaning, and the Roman cope is no different. Roman copes are types of vestments that are worn by clergymen in Mass and other services. The cope is a historical and symbolic garment and here we will be taking a closer look. You can find beautiful, ornate roman copes at vestment.co.uk.
Roman copes are large and grand pieces, made from silk or other fine materials and are often brightly coloured and embellished with ornate embroidery and symbols. They are similar to large shrouds and feature a long cloak or mantle with a rather notable missing hood. This is replaced with a large and broad decorative shield of embroidery on the back. The cope is open at the front and sits over the shoulders, it is usually held together at the chest with an ornately decorated clasp, to match the rest of the garment. They are worn at almost all other functions where the chasuble is not used.
Roman copes are slightly more complex and bulkier than their gothic counterparts, singularly magnificent pieces that grace the shoulders of clergymen. They are adorned with ecclesiastical symbols and can be patterned all over. This combined with the fine materials that they are often made of the roman cope is quite grand to behold.
Roman copes could have several origins, as it is unclear specifically where they originated. Originally being called capes or raincoats, some believe that they may have evolved from the simple choir cape, which was a black cape used by members of the choir. Either way, they eventually began to be used by dignitaries who adorned the capes with fine embroidery and bright colours. After some time the cope was regarded as a vestment and cycled into use in the ceremonies of the church. Roman copes were first seen in the eighth century and were widely adopted from the twelfth.
Roman copes are the clergyman's outerwear, and so are amongst the most visible vestments that can be worn. The colour of the cope represents the current celebration for the liturgical calendar—such as purple for advent and Lent, white for Christmas and Easter—and is often lavishly decorated with liturgical symbols and patterns.
The Roman cope is a processional garment, hence its elaborate and beautiful appearance, and is worn by all members of the clergy at several services, including but not limited to processions, burials, blessings, and consecrations. Roman copes are some of the most recognizable Christian attire that makeup the wardrobes of clergymen. Their austere and grand appearances often ensure that they are seen and admired by a great many people.
Most notably however, the cope seems to be the current clothing of choice for the papal inaugurations. Several previous popes have worn beautiful copes for their ceremonies, and often these have been converted from old papal mantles. The use of copes by the new popes in their inaugurations shows how revered these vestments are with clergymen and worshippers alike.
Roman copes are worn at a variety of celebrations and have been for a very long time - the astute clergy member will always have at least one to hand to ensure that they’re always ready for the celebrations of the Church.
Whilst the history of the cope is not completely certain, their use in modern day is. Copes are some of the finest specimens of vestments on offer and are identifiable worldwide as Christian garb. Grand and beautiful, found in churches across the globe and seen by millions during papal inaugurations the Roman cope is as iconic as it is sacred.