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What is the significance of the vestments priests wear?

Considered to be symbols of faith and also their identity, priest vestments have their own
importance to them. In the Middle Ages, priests wore clothes that marked them as different from
the commoners and royalty who would sometimes pay less attention to their attire. The clothing
of priests aimed at showing the purity of their intentions hence, it had a direct effect on how
people perceived their role in the community or the church.

The word “vestment” is derived from a Latin word which translates to clothing. The priest prays
his “vesting prayers” while he gets vested and it is associated with or describes the symbolism
of each vestment piece. This helps the priest prepare for Mass by channeling his thoughts to
what will happen next and connect him to the liturgy’s history. However, the first prayer does not
have any connection to the piece of clothing but it is said while the priest washes his hands.
Let’s take a look at the significance of priest vestments, one by one:

● Amice
The first vestment worn by the priest, amice, is a square piece of cloth with two cords
attached that goes around the priests’ neck and covers his collar. It is usually tucked into
the collar and covers the shoulders while the cord is tied around the chest. It is not a
mandatory piece of clothing but it has its own practical uses. It symbolizes the
moderation of words and defends against the temptations of the devil. While putting the
amice on, the priest prays the following: “Place, O Lord, the helmet of salvation upon my
head, to repel the assaults of the devil.”
● Alb
Alb is a long white robe that symbolizes the purity of soul required for Mass, as well as
the garment used by Pilate to clothe Christ. Altar servers, lectors and priests wear albs
when serving at Mass. The priest prays the following while putting on the alb: “Cleanse
me, O Lord, and purify my heart … that washed in the Blood of the Lamb … may attain
everlasting joy.”
● Cincture
Over the alb, the priest wears a cincture which is worn as a belt usually made of cord or
rope. It symbolises the virtue of purity. He prays, “Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of
purity and quench in me the fire of concupiscence; that the virtue of continence and
chastity may remain in me” as he puts on the cincture. It is usually white but it differs
depending on the liturgical season or the colour of the day. White, violet or black are the
colours permitted to be worn at funerals and the priest vestment is decided accordingly.
● Stole
The stole is an article of immense importance and value, which more than any other
garment demonstrates the dignity of ordained office. The stole is a long piece of cloth
worn over the neck and falling down the front of the priest’s chest. It is symbolic of the
spiritual authority of the priest, and so it is what is primarily worn to signify priesthood.
This becomes the major reason why the stole is worn for everything (including
confessions, exorcisms), and most priests carry one with them in case they need it for an
emergency baptism. And like a cincture, the colour of the stole depends on the liturgical
season or colour of the day. These are widely available at Christian stores.
● Chasuble
The outer and the last of the priest vestments, Chasuble comes in different designs and
shapes. Like cincture and stoles, it must be worn to suit the occasion or purpose i.e., the
colour must be of the proper liturgical season (green for ordinary times, purple for advent
and lent, gold or white for feasts, etc). A chasuble represents the charity that is required
for the priests and symbolizes the virtue of charity. While putting the chasuble on, the
priest prays, “O Lord, Who hast said, My yoke is easy and My burden light; grant that I
may be able so to bear it, that I may obtain Thy grace. Amen.”
Each of the vestures have its own significance, order and symbolism. Priests put them on as per
various liturgical seasons, colours and order. Bishops and priests present themselves during the
celebration of the mass wearing sets of liturgical vestments. The five liturgical colours (green,
red, gold or white, rose and purple) have symbolisms and purposes which are unique. These
are to be found or can be bought from any Christian stores. The leading Christian stores in
Kerala, one being La Corona Del Rosario, are popular for their range of priest vestments and its
quality. If one is searching for priest vestments online or offline, head over to to easily scroll through their vestment

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