Any liturgical vestment or church accessory is sure to be a beautiful and grand affair, many of the liturgical vestments of the church have deep rooted and ancient origins, tracing their development back thousands of years to the ancient world. Some of the significance and symbolism behind these garbs are just as old. Here we take a look at some of the vestments and church accessories that are used in places of worship, and the functions that they serve.
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There are a myriad of different liturgical items and dress used by the church - at each level of service different vestments are often required, alongside special clothing which signifies significant feast days or different seasons of the liturgical calendar. These meaningful garbs come in many different forms, from the dalmatics and tunicles worn by deacons and subdeacons alike, to the beautiful chasubles reserved for priests and bishops, and the grand cope and mitre sets, some of the most impressive and stunning pieces in the vestment repertoire. Each vestment hails from times of old, with an evolution often spanning hundreds or thousands of years, and each comes with a plethora of profound meaning and history.
The Chasuble and Cope
We cannot talk about vestments without talking about the priests' chasubles. The chasuble is likely one of the most used and most seen vestments that are worn by members of the clergy, as they are typically worn by priests and bishops to say Mass. They remind us and the priest of the bond between the priest and Christ, and they represent the garb that Christ wore during his passion. Next, the cope. The cope is a large and sometimes bulky garment, draped over the shoulders like a cloak or a shroud but very ornate and grand in stature. They are impressive pieces, constructed from fine silk or other luxe materials, brightly coloured and covered in intricate patterns of embroidery.
The Dalmatic and Tunicle
Hand in hand with the chasuble comes the dalmatic. The dalmatic is donned by a deacon, although can be worn by a bishop, however this is infrequent. Similar to a tunic, it is a long garment that is characterised by several decorative orphrey bars spanning across it. The dalmatic sits alongside the tunicle, another distant descendent of the tunic; tunicles are worn primarily by subdeacons. They are similar to a dalmatic but slight changes in the orphrey bars that span the garment signify their difference.
Other Liturgical Products
In terms of other artifacts used in the church, we can talk about the funeral pall, which can often match the chasuble that is worn for the occasion. A pall is the ornate cloth that is used to cover the coffin or casket during a funeral service and is often depicted with a large cross spanning its entire length - this signifies Christ's triumph over sin and death on the cross. The pall is included alongside other liturgical items such as altar cloths, altar linens, ciborium veils, chalice veils, processional items, and all manner of liturgical products. Each one is steeped in meaning and has a long history of serving the church.
Vestments are key components to the work of the church, not only do they present a cohesive look across members of the clergy during Mass, they signify their ranking of order, and also most importantly signal to the congregation the celebrations of various feast days and periods of the liturgical calendar. They have a deep and holy significance and for these reasons will be found throughout churches worldwide.