Page images

The vesture of the Priest is with some variations, the ancient Roman dress of state; which consisted of what was called the Toga and Trabaa. The moderns in common life have altogether departed from the ancient costume, whilst the Church, anxious tc preserve as far as possible every thing in its original state, has made very little alteration. The amict and the maniple are her only additions. They have been added for convenience and retained for piety Previous to the use of neckcloths, which are of comparatively modern introduction, the neck was alto gether uncovered; this was extremely inconvenient to the Clergyman, who had in many instances to sing and preach in the Church, and the injurious effects which resulted from having no covering for the neck in those cases, caused the introduction of the amict, which is a piece of cloth, generally linen, that was worn round the neck, and sometimes, besides covering the neck, formed a sort of hood for the protection of the head, except in those cases where the nature of the office demanded the respect of being uncovered; and being placed on the head, and tied round the shoulders, the wearer could protect his head, or neck, or both, as he found convenient. This is therefore the literal or natural explanation of the amict. The neck-cloth having been introduced by the Croats, and generally adopted by the other inhabitants of Europe, the great object of the introduction of the amict was otherwise obtained by the change in dress; but the vesture was retained, for the emblematic and pions purposes. The emblematic object of the vestments was principally to remind us of the passion of Christ, to commemorate which the great sacrifice of the mass was instituted. Christians were upon this principle old, that upon seeing this vestment placed on the head, they should recollect how their Redeemer was blindfolded and spit upon for their transgressions.

The object of piety for which it was retained, is to excite in the clergyman and his congregation that sen

tinent expressed by the prayer which is repeated by him at the time he clothes himself therewith.

Place, O Lord, on my head, an helmet of salvation, to repel the assaults of the devil.

At present this vestment is altogether covered by that which is next put on; that is, the alb.

The alb is the ancient Roman dress called the toga, such as it was worn under the emperors about the second century of christianity. It has been stated that it was the dress of the pagan priests. No doubt it was; and it was also the dress of the pagan gentlemen, and pagan magistrates, for it was the usual dress of all genteel persons-and previously to the introduction of christianity, they were for the greater part, if not all, pagans. On festive days especially, their toga was white. This was the colour of the dress of almost every public officer, and it would be placing christians in a very,awkward predicament, if they were obliged to cast away every dress the like of which had been worn by pagans or infidels, even in their religious ceremonies. The writer of this essay would, if this principle were admitted, oblige every christian, or at least every christian clergyman to put away the usual dress of our days, for he can prove that it has been worn within a very short period by one of the principal performers in the most solemn pagan rites, in use at present.

This indeed, is what may be properly called superstition, to say that because dress has been used by persons doing what was wrong, a similar dress never may be worn by a person doing what is right. The Catholic church teaches that there is nothing of its own nature bad in dress, unless it should become indecent.

Emblematically this vestment reminds us of the white garment in which Herod clad the Saviour, when mocking him as a fool, he sent him back to Pilate. This vestment is called alb, from its colour, ziba white.

It excites to piety, by teaching us the purity of heart and body which we should possess in being present at the holy mysteries; and this is well expressed in the prayer which is said by the clergyman when putting on this garment.

Make me white, O Lord, and cleanse my heart; that being rendered white by the blood of the Lamb, I may partake of eternal joys.

The Roman gentleman suffered his robe to flow loosely when he was unoccupied, but when he had any duty to perform, he was accinctus or girded, for which purpose he had a cincture to gird his toga, and as the clergyman is about to perform a duty, he girds himself with a cincture, which reminds us that Christ was bound for our crimes-and is also calculated to impress upon our souls the necessity of girding, (Luke xii.v 35,) our loins with the virtue of purity, that we may hold in our hands the burning lamps of charity and faith, to receive our Lord when he shall return from the nuptials. The prayer is expressive.

Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity, and destroy in my loins every seed of lust; so that the virtue of continence and chastity may remain in me.

The Clergyman next puts the Maniple upon his left arm; this was formerly an handkerchief, or cloth used for the same purpose as we now use handkerchiefs, and had its name from its being an handful, or being carried on the hand, manus, or from the word mappula, an handkerchief. But having in process of time become too much enriched with ornament to be used for this purpose, it has been preserved for its emblematic and pious significations.

It is a sort of ɔpressive weight upon the arm, which reminds us of the weight of our sins having been laid upon the Saviour, thus causing him to suffer in tears and affiction that he may bring us to glory and joy. In allusion to that verse of the Psalm. ist, Going and weeping they sowed in tears, but returning they shall come in joy, bearing their maniples

in gladness." The prayer at putting on this vestment is,

May I deserve, O Lord, to bear the maniple of weeping and grief, that I may with exultation receive the reward of labour.

The Priest then puts the stole on his neck, bring. ing it over his shoulders, and crossing it on his breast, he makes it fast with the cincture.

This vestment was appropriate to public speakers, and originally used for a similar purpose as that to which the maniple was subsequently applied; it was not crossed on the breast, but hung loosely down from the shoulders to the front of the person, and was generally of linen: hence the stole is at present worn in that way by preachers. It became so much ornamented as to be unfit for its original destination, and has been retained as an emblematic vestment. Its name, Stole, is generally supposed to have been derived from its resemblance, when hanging loosely from the shoulders, to the front of the Persian robe called a Stole, which being a sort of pellice having sleeves, and being rounded over the shoulders, and meeting pretty tightly to the front of the person, exhibited, when open, an appearance very similar to that of a flowing or loose stole, worn by a preacher, which is the mode in which it was worn by the ancient orators. In some ancient writers it is called orarium. It is also at present used as the distinctive mark of authority in the church. when a number of clergymen are assembled together, as except on a few extraordinary occasions, no person wears the stole, cut the presiding or principal clergyman, and the person who preaches or officiates.

It is a sort of yoke laid on the shoulders, and therefore well calculated to bring to our recollection the obedience and humility of the Son of God who, clothing himself in the stole of our flesh, took upon him the yoke of our punishment, that we may be clad in the glory of his immortality.

When the Priest crosses it before his breast, it is that he may be reminded of the necessity of having before his heart the protection of the Saviour's cross. At putting it on he prays-Restore unto me O Lord, the stole of immortality, which I have lost in the prevarication of my first parent; and although I approach unworthily to thy sacred mystery, may I deserve everlasting joy.

The Chasuble, or outer vestment, is the Roman Trabæa, or robe of state, in which some slight changes have been made. Those changes are, cutting open the sides, and altering the mode of embroidery. The Trabea was generally a large silken garment, which had a hole in the centre, throughwhich the head passed, the garment then rested on the shoulders of the wearer, and hung down on all sides, nearly to the ground, and the edge or border, as well at the extremity of the robe, as round the hole, wás trimmed and enriched, and the robe decorated throughout, either by painting or embroidery. When the wearer wanted to use his hands, the ides of the robe were lifted on his shoulders in plaits, and the appearance then was exactly that which is now made by a Priest in his Chasuble. As this continuation of the robe all round was found to be greatly inconveni ent, particularly as the clergyman was frequently without other ecclesiastical assistants, when he officiated, this robe was cut at the sides, so as to enable him to use his hands more conveniently, and by degrees it assumed its present form. In the embroidery a cross was marked upon the back of the Chasuble, and two stripes representing a pillar on the front, to designate that the Priest and the people should carry their cross after Christ, and lean for support upon the Church, which St. Paul calls the pillar of truth.

This chasuble, exhibiting the Cross upon the Priest's back, shows how after the purple garment was thrown upon his shoulders; the Redeemer had

« PreviousContinue »