Symbolism of Priestly Vestments

Kankakee TLM blog

Kankakee TLM blog

This is a preview of some of the information which will be appearing in the forthcoming book on Understanding the Theology of the TLM:


“The chasuble symbolizes the purple mantle cast about His shoulders in the praetorium, or else the heavy cross laid upon Him…..In short, the priest in his sacred vestments appears before us as Jesus Christ Himself on His way to the suffering of Calvary.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard, Holy Communion

The chasuble has been traced back to the Roman “paenula”, a circular garment with a hole at the top for the head. In the Church’s history, one finds mention of this garment referred to as a “casula” or “planeta”, the latter word signifying a moving star, or planet. The allusion was to the easy sway of the flowing garment which followed the bodily movements of its wearer.

The word “chasuble” has its origins in the word “casa”, a word meaning small house, or hut which designated the original use of this piece of clothing as a protective shelter when worn during inclement weather. In the ancient church, the chasuble was of such ample fullness, that it had to be arranged in folds over the arms of the priest before he started his Mass.

An example of the size and width of the early chasuble was seen when Pope Innocent VIII (d.1492) was exhumed in 1605. It was noted that the chasuble in which he had been interred extended more than 3 ½ ft. over his arms.

“To become a holocaust of love in the service of God and for the salvation of men is assuredly difficult and painful to nature; therefore, the genuine life of a priest is and ever will be a yoke and a burden, therefore the priest prays when vesting with the chasuble: ‘O Lord, Who hast said, ‘My yoke is sweet and My burden light, grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace. Amen.’” – Gihr

*“St. Bonaventure , like other medieval authors, associates the various vestments to certain moments of the Passion: “Our High Priest, Jesus, wore in His Passion, all of the sacerdotal vestments. The amice, when the Jews covered his face; the alb, when Herod cloaked him with a white garment; the chasuble, when, through ignorance, they put on Him the piece of purple. So that nothing was lacking, he had the maniple, the stole, and the cincture when he was fastened to the column. The crown of thorns was the mitre; the reed, his scepter. As to the gloves and sandals, he had His hands and feet covered with His blood. Thus, when Bishops wear these ornaments to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, they do it in remembrance of the Passion of our Lord, of which the Sacrament of the altar is the memorial.”
*Our translation from the Spanish source:

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