Vestments refer to the distinctive garments worn by leaders of the church’s worship. Many of the church’s vestments are descended from the ordinary dress of the imperial Roman society in which the early church came into being.
Vestments worn by the celebrant at the Eucharist typically include a stole and chasuble. These vestments usually reflect the liturgical color of the day or season of the celebration. The celebrant also usually wears an alb and may wear a girdle and amice. The officiant at the Daily Office or other non-eucharistic services may wear a cassock and surplice. A tippet may also be worn. A stole indicates that the wearer is an ordained person. Bishops and priests wear the stole over both shoulders, and deacons typically wear the stole over the left shoulder. Bishops may wear distinctive episcopal vestments, including the rochet and chimere, and the miter. A purple shirt with a clerical collar usually indicates that the wearer is a bishop, and a black shirt with a clerical collar usually indicates that the wearer is a member of the clergy.
The following are vestments associated with Bishops in The Episcopal Church.
The sleeveless outer vestment worn by the celebrant at the eucharist. The chasuble and
cope are both derived from the outdoor cloak worn by all classes and both sexes in the
Greco-Roman world. The chasuble may be oval or oblong, with an opening for the head. It
typically reflects the liturgical color of the day.
A ceremonial cloak, semicircular, richly ornamented, with a clasp in front, worn over the
alb (or rochet) and stole. It is based on the cappa, an outdoor overcoat worn in the Roman
empire. Several Anglican practices dating from the sixteenth century have extended
usage of the cope. Presiders sometimes wear a cope at the eucharist during the entrance
procession and even during the liturgy of the word. Bishops sometimes wear it when performing episcopal functions such as ordinations and confirmations.
ROCHET AND CHIMERE
The rochet is a vestment of white linen or similar material which replaced the alb and
which in time came to be used only by bishops. Early American bishops found the huge
balloon sleeves difficult both to launder and to carry, so the rochet was sleeveless, and the
sleeves were tacked lightly to the chimere. Styles have changed in recent years, and many
rochets now resemble albs. The chimere is a robe without sleeves worn over a rochet as
part of the vestments of a bishop. At first it was simply the outer garment in general use.
It was of one piece with openings for head and arms. Not until the introduction of wigs
did it open down center front. The chimere was usually of black or red silk when it was
adopted for liturgical or ceremonial use. As an outer garment, the chimere is not usually
appropriate when a chasuble or cope is worn.
CROZIER, OR CROSIER
The pastoral staff of a Bishop. It was originally a walking stick and later acquired the symbolism of a shepherd’s crook. It is a sign of pastoral authority. In liturgy the diocesan bishop carries the crozier in the left hand, with the crook facing outward. Although the crozier was originally part of the insignia of all bishops, it is now used mainly by diocesans in their own jurisdictions. Its use dates from the seventh century.
MITER, OR MITRE
Liturgical headgear and insignia of bishops and other prelates. It is typically worn by bishops in procession and when pronouncing episcopal blessings. It is removed during prayer, including the eucharistic canon. The term is from the Greek for “turban.” The miter is shield-shaped and pointed at the top. Two lappets (pendant bands or flaps) hang down the back of the miter. It is often said to represent the tongues of fire that rested on the apostles at Pentecost (Acts 2). The miter may be derived from the headgear of civil officials of the late Roman empire.
A cross, typically of silver or gold, suspended by a chain around the neck. It came into general use by bishops in the sixteenth century. Some priests wear a simple pectoral cross.
Christians have apparently worn finger-rings with Christian symbols since the third or fourth centuries. Rings have been associated with fidelity. In the late middle ages, the rite for the ordination of bishops came to include the delivery of instruments of office. An episcopal ring was given to the newly ordained bishop, along with staff and miter. The episcopal ring was a signet ring. It may have been used as an official seal. At the ordination of a bishop in the Episcopal Church, a ring, staff, and miter, or other suitable insignia of office may be presented to the newly-ordained bishop. Modern episcopal rings are often made of gold and ornamented with an amethyst. The episcopal ring is usually worn on the ring-finger of the bishop’s right hand.
A long narrow strip of material that is the distinctive vestment and insignia of the clergy. Its use may be derived from the ancient practice of wearing a ceremonial garland at a festival and from use as an insignia of rank by Roman officials such as senators and consuls. It is typically worn with other vestments, its color usually reflects the liturgical color of the day. It is worn over an alb or surplice, and may be worn under or over a chasuble or dalmatic. Bishops and priests wear the stole around the back of the neck, with equal ends hanging down in front, some priests cross the ends of the stole in the front. Deacons wear the stole over the left shoulder, with the ends of the stole falling diagonally across the front and back of the body, the deacon’s stole is tied near the right hip. In the east, and occasionally in the west, the deacon’s stole may be worn under the right arm, with the ends of the stole crossing over the left shoulder and hanging down the front and back.
A large black scarf worn by clergy over surplice and cassock at the Daily Offices. It resembles a stole and is worn around the neck with the ends hanging down the front. It may be ornamented by emblems such as the Episcopal Church seal or the insignia of the wearer’s seminary.