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Liturgical Vestments, Vessels, and Objects in Christian Worship

Summary and Keywords

Any history of Christian liturgy must address the origins and development of the various material elements that are used during these celebrations. These have their own specific history, just as does the architectural and artistic context of the liturgy. Many of the specialized garments, or vestments, worn by ministers during liturgical services in several contemporary Christian churches originated in elements of ordinary or honorific dress used in the ancient Roman Empire. Over the course of several centuries, the style and type of vestments used in Western Christianity diverged from those used in Eastern Christianity, until today the differences are more striking than the similarities, even in shared individual elements like the stole and the chasuble. In addition, different kinds of vestments are used by different ministers (for example, the deacon, priest, or bishop) and in different kinds of sacramental and liturgical ceremonies. What a minister might wear at one service, for example evening prayer or the administration of baptism, might not be the same as those expected for the celebration of the Eucharist (the Mass, the holy communion, or the divine liturgy). The same is true for the essential vessels used during the celebration of the Eucharist: the chalice to hold the wine, and the paten, or plate, on which rests the bread to be blessed. Both of these have developed in distinctive styles in both West and East over time. The same is true of many of the other vessels and implements needed for the Eucharist and those used in other liturgical services. Examples include containers designed to hold water, oil, or incense as well as the number and style of altar cloths, veils, and candles utilized at different times and places.

Keywords: bishop, chalice, communion, deacon, Eucharist, liturgy, Mass, priest, vestments

To paraphrase the liturgical historian Aidan Kavanagh, liturgical vestments and objects are not trivial, but sacred, because their meaning derives from the essential “sacredness” of the events in which they participate.1


The specialized ritual garments worn by the presider and assistants during a liturgical celebration are known as “vestments.” Liturgical historians have traced the origins and development of vestments used, with ongoing modifications, in many Christian churches up to the present day.

Eucharistic Vestments in Antiquity

Scholarly consensus today holds that Christian liturgical vestments derive from ordinary and formal clothing worn in Greco-Roman culture during the 1st century ce, rather than from the ritual garments used in some Jewish rites of that period.2 During the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the different “orders” of ordained ministry became fixed. The three key offices were those of bishop, presbyter or priest, and deacon. Another order, that of subdeacon, became increasingly important as well. Each of these orders eventually was assigned specific liturgical vestments. The earliest elements of Christian liturgical clothing seem to have been the alb, the chasuble, and the stole.

The alb, from the Latin word alba (“white”), originated from the under-tunic worn in antiquity. The “white garment” given at baptism seems also to have derived from this standard undergarment.3 As liturgical vestiture became more and more stylized, the alb developed into a floor-length, thin robe or “dress” with narrow sleeves, made of linen. As time went on, the sleeves or hem could be trimmed with embroidered banding (“apparels” or “orphry banding”). It also became customary to wear a special cord or belt tied at the waist of this often full-cut vestment—the cincture (cingulum or zona). The alb was and still is worn under the chasuble.

The chasuble, a rather full, sleeveless garment similar to a poncho, was derived from certain styles of the ordinary outer cloak worn by both women and men in cold or inclement weather—the paenula, as either the fuller planeta or the narrower casula.4 Over time, the chasuble became a stylized and often expansively decorated vestment, worn only by priests and bishops during the celebration of the Eucharist.

The stole (stola or orarium), a scarf-like strip of cloth worn around the neck or on one shoulder, has cloudier origins. Some believe it to have been originally a token of civil rank, others derive it from rectangles of cloth given as imperial gifts to those attending the games, and some earlier writers trace it to Jewish prayer shawls. In Christian use, it became a mark of ordained rank or office: bishops and priests wore it around the neck, with both ends hanging down straight in front or, in later Western usage, crossed across the chest. Western deacons would later wear it looped on the left shoulder, draped across the torso front and back, and fixed under the right arm.

Liturgical Vestments, Vessels, and Objects in Christian WorshipClick to view larger

Figure 1. Dalmatic, early 18th century. Costume Council Fund, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Somewhat later, another liturgical garment was assigned to the deacon: the dalmatic, which was originally a sleeved overtunic called the tunica dalmatica (possibly reflecting its origins in Dalmatia on the northern Adriatic coast). The body of the tunic was decorated by embroidered stripes or bands. Another, plainer, version of this tunic, the tunicle, became the eucharistic vestment of the subdeacon.

Eucharistic Vestments in the Medieval West

After the legalization of Christianity, liturgical vestments became more elaborate and decorated. This tendency continued through the early Middle Ages.5 As liturgical colors proper to liturgical seasons or feasts became customary, outer liturgical garments like stoles and chasubles were designed to reflect these colors (e.g., purple or “sackcloth” for Lent). Embroidered banding also was often added to these vestments, as well as to the alb. In addition, the act of vesting itself became a ritualized “transition moment,” often with an elaborate series of vesting prayers to be recited in the sacristy as the ministers took off their everyday clothing and put on the liturgical vestments of the day. An added complication in the vesting process was the custom of the duplication of vestments. One way this took place was in the addition of special “over” or “under” vestments that were sometimes layered onto the older elements. Another was the stipulation that as the cleric progressed through the major orders, he was to don the vestments of his previous rank as well as those of his present rank. For example, a bishop vesting for Mass would be expected to wear the vestments of the subdeacon and deacon under his priestly vestments, to which would be added vestments reflecting his episcopal rank.

A bishop of the 11th century could expect to spend a significant amount of time in preparation for the celebration of Mass. Each action of preparation, including the donning of each separate vestment, would be accompanied by a specific prayer, psalm verses, or other short versicle.6 After the bishop entered the church and prayed for a short time at the altar, he would enter the sacristy. The vesting rite would begin with a ritual handwashing, and then the removal of his ordinary outerwear. He would then don a series of liturgical vestments in layers. The first was the amice (amictum or ephot), a rectangular piece of cloth worn around the neck and held in place by thin strings tied around the body. Next came the alb, and then the cincture. Sometimes bishops would also wear an embroidered belt or strip of cloth over the cincture called the precinctorium. Next, the bishop put on the stole, and then the three overtunics: the tunicle, the undecorated sleeved tunic worn by subdeacons at Mass; the dalmatic, the more elaborately decorated sleeved tunic worn by deacons; and the priestly chasuble. The final vestment worn by all priests was the maniple, a stylized and elaborately decorated band of cloth worn on the wrist (as a waiter might wear a napkin or small towel). Next, the bishop would put on a series of “pontifical” vestments, those reserved for episcopal use. Some vesting orders called for the donning of special pontifical stockings (caligae or udones) and soft shoes or slippers (sandalia or campagi). Others listed prayers for the bishop to recite as he put on special gloves (chirothecae), his episcopal ring (annulum), his pallium (a special white circle of cloth, often embroidered with crosses, worn around the neck, granted to certain bishops by the pope), or in some countries his rationale (a kind of band or small sash worn across the chest). Other vestments might include the mitre (a special kind of stiff cloth cap, often pointed at the top) and the crosier (baculus or pedum, a staff of pastoral office, often made of precious metals and curved at the end like a shepherd’s crook). The vesting rite would conclude with one or two “general vesting” prayers, and a series of verses and responses.

These vesting prayers provide an interesting lens through which to view an important element of medieval piety. These prayers tend to interpret the individual vestments in terms of moral, ethical, or christological allegory.7 For example, in an 11th-century ordo missae, the presider recited this prayer as he donned the stole:

Stola iustitiae circumda Domine ceruiem meam. Et ab omni corruptione peccati purifica mentem meam. (“Encircle my neck, Lord, with the stole of justice, and purify my mind from all corruption of sin.”)8

Vesting prayers were dropped in Protestant churches of the Reformation era, but in Roman Catholicism a required standard set continued to be used until the Second Vatican Council (1963). The prayer for the stole in the Tridentine Missale Romanum is different from the 11th-century example, but it also contains a moral or purificatory message:

Redde mihi, Domine, stolam immortalitatis, quam perdidi in praevaricatione primi parentis; et, quamvis indignum accedo ad tuum sacrum mysterium, merear tamen gaudium sempiternum. (“Restore unto me, O Lord, the stole of immortality, which I lost through the sin of my first parents and, although unworthy to approach Thy sacred Mystery, may I nevertheless attain to joy eternal.”)9

The revised Roman Missal, or Sacramentary (1970), now known as the Ordinary Form of the Mass, did not include vesting prayers, which seem widely to have fallen into disuse; neither does the third edition of this Missal (2002, 2011). The revised “General Instruction” of the Roman Missal lists the vestments to be worn by various liturgical ministers but does not mention the use of vesting prayers as part of the preparation for Mass.10 However, recently permission was granted for the concurrent use of the pre–Vatican II Missal (1962), known as the “Extraordinary Form” of the Mass; here, the late medieval/Tridentine vesting prayers are retained.11

The allegorical interpretations ascribed to these vestments through the development of vesting prayers varied from place to place and from century to century during the medieval period.12 In addition, allegorical interpretations of both vestments and liturgical objects became an important theme in more comprehensive medieval theological and canonical commentaries on the Mass and sacraments, from the time of Amalarius of Metz and his Liber officialis (823) through the monumental Rationale divinorum officiorum (1286–1291) by William Durandus, bishop of Mende.13 As Joseph Braun notes,

It is a striking fact that the symbolism of these prayers often pursues its own course without regard to the interpretations of the liturgists. It was not until towards the end of the Middle Ages that a greater agreement arose between the symbolism of the liturgists and what might be called the official symbolism of the Church expressed in the prayers in question; this official symbolism, moreover, differed greatly at different periods and in different places.14

Other vestments also came into use during the medieval period for other, non-eucharistic liturgical celebrations. The cope (pluviale), used by deacons, priests, or bishops for non-eucharistic sacramental celebrations such as baptism, is essentially an ornamented, floor-length cape worn over the shoulders and fastened at the neck.15

The alb and stole would be worn underneath the cope. During processions with the Blessed Sacrament or services for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (which became more common from the 14th century onward), a shawl-like vestment called the humerale or humeral veil (from humerus, “upper arm”) would be worn by the presider. This was usually made from the same kind of material as the chasuble or dalmatic and was worn draped over the shoulders and covering the arms and hands. For celebrations of the divine office, other vestments were used: the cassock, usually a black, floor-length tunic with long sleeves; and on top of that, the surplice, a waist- or thigh-length version of the alb (the word “surplice” derives from super-pelliceum, indicating that it was worn “over” a garment “made from skins” in colder weather). In England, a warm scarf was also worn in choir; this developed into the modern Anglican tippet.

Basic choir vestiture—the cassock, the long black tunic that was the ordinary daily wear for clerics, topped by the surplice—would have been worn by clerics in both minor and major orders during the medieval period, and the use spread to anyone assisting at a liturgical celebration. Thus, in some traditions, cassock and surplice (or a shorter version called the cotta) continue to be worn by lay acolytes and choir members today.

The development of one more episcopal vestment should be mentioned here. Bishops presided over many liturgical celebrations involving the use of consecrated oil in ritual anointings (confirmations, ordinations, dedication of altars); a short white or colored apron, the gremial, was used to protect their clothing in these situations, and it later came to be draped over the bishop’s lap during any Mass when he was seated.

Vestments after the Reformation

The Protestant reformers, in their attempts to eliminate elements of “human invention” from the liturgy, took different tacks in regard to vestments.16 The Lutheran tradition regarded vestments as adiaphora, to be used at the judgment of the individual or community. In many Lutheran countries, however, the liturgical vestment for pastors came to be modeled after the black gown of the university professor rather than the colorful chasuble of the priest. This gown was often worn with a white ruff at the collar. Germany and Denmark followed this pastor-preacher-teacher model. In Sweden, however, the Lutheran Church remained more “high church” in this regard, retaining the use of the chasuble during the Eucharist.17

Other reformed churches implemented a stricter reform of liturgical vestiture. In these regions (e.g., Calvinist sections of Switzerland), the black professorial preacher’s gown with a white ruff at the collar became a standard for Sunday worship. More radical reform movements (e.g., Anabaptists and later Quakers) discarded the use of any special vestiture for Sunday worship.

The use of vestments in the Anglican tradition became a hotly debated topic for several generations. Little changed during the reign of Henry VIII; the two versions of the Book of Common Prayer under Edward VI saw use for only a few years before the death of the young king and the accession of his Catholic half sister, Mary. Her attempts to reinstate Catholic liturgy and practice failed with her death five years later, and her successor, Elizabeth I, reintroduced the Second Prayer Book little changed from Edward’s reign. Objections to “popish” elements in Anglican worship led to the general rejection of several vestments, including the chasuble. However, the more extreme Puritans objected even to the wearing of the surplice. Until the 19th century, the common Anglican vestiture consisted of the surplice and black scarf or tippet (or academic hood); some clergy wore alb and cope, or even chasuble, while others stayed with the black preaching gown. A return to the more Catholic set of vestments was encouraged in some areas by the “neo-medievalist” and Oxford movements of the 19th century.18

Western Vestments in the Contemporary Era

The general effects of the two world wars, as well as the more specific influences of the liturgical movement of the mid-20th century and the Roman Catholic liturgical reforms after the Second Vatican Council, all had repercussions in the use of liturgical vestments for Catholics and Protestants alike. Catholic vestments in the Ordinary Form began to be designed in a more fulsome manner. Chasubles especially expanded greatly in volume and drape along the lines of the earlier, more expansive “Gothic” style, and the severely cropped, almost stylized, Baroque designs (e.g., the “fiddleback” chasuble) fell into disuse in many places. Others were dropped (for example, the maniple) or fell into disuse. However, all of the pre-conciliar vestments continue to be used in the Extraordinary Form. Many Protestant churches, on the other hand, began to re-appropriate some kinds of “high church” vestments in their worship practices. This had already begun in the Anglican tradition in the 19th century in England (under the influence of the Tractarians, among others) and in the Lutheran Church in Germany (inspired by the work of Wilhelm Löhe, for example). In the United States, some Lutheran traditions began to use the alb and chasuble; stoles also became more common in use and more elaborate in design among some of the more “Reformed” traditions, such as Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ.19

Vestments in the East

Liturgical vestments in the Eastern churches share many of the same roots as Western vestments. There are a number of significant differences, however, and several items of vestiture that have no parallel in the Western churches.20

In the Byzantine tradition, the sticharion is the equivalent to the alb, although it can be more elaborately decorated for a deacon; it is fastened by a cincture (zone). The orarion, or stole, is worn by deacons; another term, the epitrachelion, is used for the priestly stole. It, too, is worn in a fashion similar to the Western use, except that the two arms of the stole are buttoned or fastened near the neck, so the two ends hang close together down the front of the sticharion. Bishops wear this as an “under-stole”; however, the bishop’s “outer” stole is referred to as an omopharion and in appearance is similar to the Western pallium.21 The chasuble worn by priests (and formerly by bishops) is also similar to that in the West (phenolion). From the 11th century until today, however, the bishop has worn another overgarment, the sakkos, an elaborately decorated tunic similar to the dalmatic.22

Several pieces of Eastern liturgical vestiture appear to have no parallels or common points of origin in the West.23 Bishops and certain esteemed priests wear an ornately decorated, stiff diamond of material called the epigonation, which may have derived from imperial military use (representing a sheath for a dagger).24 Deacons and higher clergy are also entitled to wear decorated cuffs on the sticharion, called epimanikia, possibly derived from decorative imperial bands or clavi.25 Several Eastern liturgical traditions also make use of special liturgical headwear or “crowns.” These clerical crowns seem to have come into wide use by bishops after the fall of Constantinople in the 15th century; they are made of gold or other metal, and in the Russian tradition they may be worn by certain distinguished priests as well.26 In the Ethiopian tradition, any minister of the rank of deacon or above may also wear the zewd, another type of liturgical crown.27 It should be noted, however, that liturgical crowns in the Eastern traditions are also used by laypersons in one significant sacramental act, the marriage ritual.

Liturgical Colors

Liturgical colors gradually came into use during late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. In the West, certain colors eventually (perhaps as late as the 12th century) came to be associated with certain liturgical seasons and feasts or fasts; the use of certain colors could be quite varied, according to location and time period.28 Very early colors mentioned or depicted include white, purple, and olive green.29 The nomenclature used for these colors could also vary; thus, a chasuble of the color blattea (“the color of clotted blood,” probably reddish purple) is mentioned at the turn of the 9th century. Other early medieval colors included brown-purple, brownish gray, black, deep blue, and yellow.30

These dark or dun colors (e.g., “sackcloth”) were often used for occasions of penitence or certain feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, such as Candlemas. Other festal colors—for instance, white and gold—could be used on important feast days. In general, however, on these festive occasions the parish cathedral would use its “best” or most elaborate set of vestments, irrespective of the color. In England and Spain, blue was often used for the season of Advent and feasts of the Blessed Virgin.

Pope Innocent III listed four Roman liturgical colors at the end of the 12th century: white, red, black, and green.31 The great French bishop and canonist William Durandus, writing at the end of the 13th century, noted the use of the same four liturgical colors. He mentioned that in Rome, others would be added to these four: scarlet to red; violet (or red-violet) to black; “flax” to white; and “saffron” or yellow to green. Violet might also be used in place of black on certain occasions, such as Advent, Lent, and Ember Days.32

After the Council of Trent, these colors became more strictly standardized for the Roman Catholic Church: white for festive occasions such as Christmas and its season, or Easter and its season; purple or violet for more penitential seasons including Lent; red for feasts of martyrs, the Holy Spirit, or other occasions such as ordinations; black for funerals, seasons of mourning, and occasional feasts of the Virgin, including Candlemas; and green for the Sundays “after Pentecost,” or what are today referred to in the Roman Catholic tradition as “Ordinary Time.” Since Vatican II, the standard liturgical colors are much the same: white, red, green, and violet or purple.33

Black has been made an optional color for funerals. The color rose, a light mauve, was and still may be used on two Sundays of the year: Gaudete Sunday in Advent, and Laetare Sunday in Lent. This color signifies a lightening of the penitential mood of these seasons and points ahead to the joyful feasts of Christmas and Easter. Eastern churches also use colored vestments, though today “any colour that would not shock is counted as admissible.”34

Liturgical Objects and Vessels

Through the centuries the array of ceremonial objects used during the liturgy has increased in number and developed in design. These material adjuncts to worship fall into several categories.

Candles and Other Lights

The use of lights, or candles, in the Christian liturgy seems to stem from Roman civil and imperial use. Certain officials, for example, were entitled to be accompanied in the streets by torchbearers. Although in the earliest years there seems to have been a certain resistance to using candles and other lights during Christian liturgy because this smacked of the pagan and imperial cult, references to their use can be seen from at least the 4th century onward. The number and size of liturgical candles grew as time progressed, not only during the celebration of Mass but also for other liturgical celebrations and devotional purposes.35

During the Protestant Reformation, some churches retained the use of candles at the Eucharist, while other, more “reformed” traditions did not. For many, the use of candles as votive lights used to reverence statues of the saints and burned in front of a tabernacle or other place of Eucharist reservation made them seem generally part and parcel of the “idolatry” the reform of the church was to stamp out. In England, one can see this struggle from the 16th through 19th centuries: those of Puritan leanings in the earlier centuries called for the use of candles to be abandoned, and those of a more “high church” opinion (e.g., the later Tractarians) sought to reintroduce them.36

By the eve of the Second Vatican Council, the number and use of candles in the Roman Catholic Church had been strictly specified. At least two lighted candles were to be used at Low Mass, while a third, special candle could be lit during the canon. At least six, and on certain solemn occasions seven, candles were to be lit for High Mass. For Benediction and/or exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, at least twelve (and up to twenty) candles were to be used. The composition of these candles was also regulated: these “minimal” numbers of candles (as well as the Paschal candle, mentioned below) were to be at least 65 percent beeswax, and other additional candles 25 percent.37 Lights were and are also used in the Eastern churches. In the Byzantine Church, at least two candles are used during the Eucharist, although more are permitted. Lights are also carried during the Little Entrance and Great Entrance processions, and during the reading of the gospel. The Coptic Church at one time placed two lights near but not on the altar; today it is permitted to have them on the altar. The Ethiopian Church mandates three candles, two on the altar at the corners of the western side, and one at the center of the eastern side. However, Ethiopian Catholics today have permission to celebrate Mass without any candles in use. The Syrian traditions also use two lights.38

Some Eastern traditions also call for the bishop to bless the congregation using sets of blessing candles in special candelabra. Either a set of two crossed candles (dikirotrikira), signifying the two natures of Christ, or of three crossed candles (trikirion), signifying the three persons in one God, may be used.39

Other candles were used for special occasions during Holy Week and Easter.40 In the medieval West (and less commonly today), a special late-night service called Tenebrae was held during the night of Holy Thursday into Good Friday. About fifteen candles (in some places during medieval period, this could range from twenty-three to seventy-two candles) would be ritually extinguished, one by one, during the service. These candles were held in a tall, elaborate candelabrum sometimes called a hearse.41

The paschal candle became a major focus of the Easter vigil in Christian liturgy during the 4th century. Its use seems to have originated in the ritual lighting of a lamp during the Christian evening service of lucernarium. A single, prominent candle came to be lighted from the new fire kindled at the beginning of the vigil, and it would be ritually blessed with incense and praised in the singing of the Easter proclamation, the Exsultet. As time went on, the Easter candle came to be ritually carried into the church at the beginning of the vigil; the blessing came to include the insertion of five grains of incense in a cross-like formation, symbolizing the five wounds of Christ. The size and weight of the candle increased markedly over the course of the Middle Ages, as did the height of the stand on which it was placed.42 The paschal candle is still used in Holy Week ceremonies by Roman Catholics, and its liturgical prominence has been heightened by the reform of these rites. Some other Western Christian traditions, in the course of their own liturgical revisions, have reemphasized or reintroduced the paschal candle in their own Holy Week ceremonies.

Liturgical Vessels for the Eucharist

For the celebration of the Eucharist, the two primary liturgical vessels are the chalice (calyx, cup) and the plate or paten.43 The earliest chalices were probably made of glass or ceramic, although we know that other materials (e.g., horn) were used because they were prohibited later. Early chalices also tended to be large, so that many people could drink from them (the “common cup”). Both individual and common cups were used in the domestic sphere in late antiquity. In the early medieval period, large ornamental chalices, given as gifts by dignitaries, might be displayed in close proximity to the altar; so massive were they, however, that it is doubtful whether they were actually used.44 However, other large but less massive two-handled chalices were clearly designed for actual communal use. Gradually during the Middle Ages, the size of the chalice was considerably reduced, reflecting the slow but general withdrawal from the laity of communion under the species of wine. The chalice became a vessel for the use of the clergy alone. However, as the laity came to rely more and more on actually seeing the consecrated elements, chalices became more elaborately decorated, sometimes even with attached bells.45

The paten, or plate, containing the bread for the eucharistic celebration, also underwent development in the West. From the earliest use of baskets or “gold glass” dishes, the paten developed as a specially designed bread plate for use at Eucharist. These were often more the size of platters than individual dishes and were made from gold or other precious metal. As the chalice changed during the medieval period, so did the paten. As the breads used for the Mass became smaller and flatter (called “hosts,” a term deriving from the Latin hostia, “victim” or “sacrifice”), the paten itself became smaller. As the reception of communion under the species of bread by the laity became less and less frequent, the paten needed only to be the size of the single host to be consecrated by the priest. It also became customary to shape the underside of the paten’s base so that it could be placed on top of the chalice.46

The Reformation and the shifts in ecclesiology and eucharistic theology that accompanied it precipitated important changes in the design of the paten and chalice in some places. Some Protestant traditions, intent on deemphasizing the adoration of the eucharistic elements and restoring instead the wider reception of both bread and cup to the entire community, stressed the use of plainer plates and chalices, using simple metals, glass, or even wood. These reformers understood their task as a call to simplify ceremonial “of human invention,” and they desired to restore what they understood to be the essential meaning of cup and plate. James F. White commented, “Hubmaier’s baptizing with a milk pail was matched by Zwingli celebrating the eucharist using the common wooden platters and cups that each housewife must have scrubbed (we hope) daily. The vessels must have spoken much louder than words.”47

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Figure 2. Prendergast Burse and Chalice Veil, c. 1890.

Photograph by Daderot, licensed CC0 1.0.

Others, including the Anglicans and Lutherans, retained the use of more precious metals and added larger pitchers or flagons to refill the smaller communion chalices as needed. Additionally, in some places (e.g., the United States), communion in some churches was distributed to a seated congregation by circulating small individual glasses on communion trays.48

Other vessels or instruments were also in use during eucharistic celebrations. By the 4th century, flagons (amula, urceola) were used to hold water and wine for use during the offertory. These came to be more commonly known as cruets. They could be large or (as time went on) small, and made of precious metals or glass.49 In the Byzantine tradition, a special pitcher (zeon, thermarion, or kiolion) is used to hold warm water, which is added to the chalice immediately before the distribution of communion.50

In the medieval West, and in later Roman Catholicism, the priest presider had the option to use a tiny spoon, its bowl shaped for dipping, to ensure that only a canonically correct small amount of water was added to the wine; this was sometimes called in English a “scruple spoon.” It is occasionally used today in the Extraordinary Form.

The Byzantine tradition also employs a cutting instrument called the lance (kopyo, in Slavonic) during the pre-Eucharist ritual of the preparation of the bread. The lance is used to cut the portion of the leavened loaf to be used for the Eucharist (the amnos, or “lamb”) from the rest of the loaf, and to make other symbolic ritual incisions in that bread. Until the point of the recitation of the creed, a raised, crossed set of metal bands is placed over the bread on the paten (diskos) to keep the cloth veil covering the offering away from the surface of the bread. Because of its shape it is called the asterisk (or asteriskos); it is also sometimes decorated with a star at the crossbar.51

In the Western tradition, it was permitted in certain circumstances to use other vessels to aid in the distribution of communion. To this day in the Roman Catholic Church, for example, communion may be distributed by means of a liturgical spoon (cochlear), usually by intinction, that is, by using the spoon to dip a fragment of consecrated bread in the consecrated wine. A liturgical straw or tube (calamus or fistula) for sipping the wine alone is also permitted for use of the clergy at a concelebrated Mass.52 These implements are rarely used, although permitted in both the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form.53 However, in some Eastern churches, communion is always distributed with the spoon. At communion time, the priest holds a large chalice containing several small pieces of consecrated bread in the wine. As communicants approach, they cross their arms over their chests and open their mouths. The priest inserts the bowl of the long-handled spoon (in Greek kochliarion or Slavonic lzhitza) into the mouth, then turns it over without touching the roof of the mouth or the tongue.

Liturgical Vestments, Vessels, and Objects in Christian WorshipClick to view larger

Figure 3. Liturgical Fan (Flabellum), c. 1200. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1947 (47.101.32).

Photograph by shooting_brooklyn, CC BY-SA 2.5.

In the East, one frequently finds the use of ceremonial liturgical fans during the course of the eucharistic liturgy. The ripidion (in Latin, flabellum) used in several traditions has come to resemble a metal wand, with a flat metal figure of an angel or seraph forming the blade of the fan. In some traditions, one of the eucharistic cloths or veils would be waved over the elements during the anaphora.

During the 4th century, beginning in the East and then spreading to the West, incense came to be used regularly at the celebration of the Eucharist.54 The dish used to hold the burning incense (incense grains poured over glowing charcoal) was called the thurible (from thus, “incense”) or censer. Eventually these receptacles became larger, and chains with an attached cover were added so that the incense could be dispersed more easily. A smaller covered container, the “boat” or navicella, contained reserve grains of incense to be added as needed. For more elaborate celebrations, one acolyte, the thurifer, would be responsible for the incense alone. In some Eastern traditions the chains are shorter, with small bells attached so that they sound whenever the censer (thymaterion in Greek) is swung.55 Another liturgical object used during the medieval Mass in the West was the “pax-board.” From antiquity, members of the Christian community assembled for the Eucharist would exchange a kiss of peace during the service, either before the gifts were brought up at the offertory or immediately before communion was distributed. With time, it became the custom for the officiating clerics only to exchange a greeting of peace in descending order of rank. They did so not always by kissing or embracing each other but by ritually circulating and kissing a flat wooden board decorated with religious imagery. This came to be called the “pax-board.”56

Other Liturgical Vessels

Another set of vessels developed to hold the consecrated elements outside the eucharistic celebration. From earliest times, sources attest to the consecrated bread being carried to those unable to attend the Eucharist itself. From this practice, the small portable arca, pyx, or theca (“box”) developed. Later, a special cupboard (sometimes a niche or recess called an aumbry) or box was used to reserve the consecrated bread for the use of the sick. This, in turn, led in many places to putting the small container or box in a sacrament tower or eucharistic dove—a metal vessel, often shaped like a dove, suspended from the ceiling of the sanctuary.57 Finally, in the Roman Catholic tradition, this box was incorporated into the liturgical furnishing of the main sanctuary space as the tabernacle. A particular kind of container also developed in which the consecrated hosts could be reserved with some security, and from which they could be distributed to communicants as needed. This “wide-mouthed dish” came to resemble a flattened chalice, resting on a base with a stem; unlike the chalice, however, it also came with a domed lid that fit tightly over the mouth of the dish. This vessel came to be known as a ciborium, possibly derived from its resemblance to the architectural ciborium over the altar.58

Liturgical Vestments, Vessels, and Objects in Christian WorshipClick to view larger

Figure 4. Eucharistic Dove, early 13th century.

Courtesy of the Walters Art Museum.

One of the most intense areas of controversy during the Reformation was the nature of the Eucharist, and more specifically the presence of Christ in relation to the eucharistic elements of bread and wine. The Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent continued to stress the real, objective, and permanent change in the bread and wine, expressed “most appropriately” (aptissime) in the 13th-century doctrine of transubstantiation. Thus, after the Reformation, the Roman Catholic practice of blessing the congregation with the Blessed Sacrament, or exposing the Blessed Sacrament for a period of adoration and prayer, became more widespread. To facilitate this, a special stand or monstrance was used to display the host.59 The host would be placed into a small round box with glass sides, called a luna or lunette; often this shallow cylinder was framed with gold or silver metal in the shape of a sunburst, with rays emanating from the center. All of this would be set into a fixed stand consisting of a metal stem and wide base. At the liturgy of what came to be known as Benediction, the priest would put on the humeral veil and, with this special “shawl” draped over his arms and hands, would take the monstrance from the altar, turn, and bless the congregation with the exposed sacrament.

In some Eastern traditions too, the eucharistic bread came to be reserved in a cupboard or vessel within the church. One such vessel, the artophorion, can be seen as a “mixture of ciborium and tabernacle”60 and is given a special place within the sanctuary.

In the early Middle Ages, sprinkling with holy water became an important part of a number of liturgical celebrations, the Mass included. Appropriate liturgical vessels were used here as well: a small bucket-shaped container for the water itself, and a small staff or baton, which was dipped into the container and then swung to flick drops of holy water onto the clergy and congregation. This came to be known as an aspergil or aspergillum, and the rite itself as the Asperges, from the psalm chant commonly used to accompany it (Asperges me, Domine, “Wash me, Lord”; Ps. 51:4).61

Other vessels are used for the celebration of non-eucharistic liturgies. For example, in both the East and the West (in some traditions), certain special containers are used to hold chrism or other consecrated oils. In some Western churches this is called a chrismatory; in the Byzantine tradition it is called an alabastron (alavastr, in Slavonic) and can be made of glass or metal.62

Veils, Linens, Frontals, and Rugs

The earliest altar cloths, often embroidered, were called pallae or palls. From these early altar cloths evolved a number of different kinds of altar covering. The white linen cloth was called the palla corporalis and was used only during the celebration of the Eucharist. Other, silken cloths, often donated by the wealthy, developed into colored decorative fabrics. Free-standing altars came to be decorated front and back with elaborate “throw-over” frontals made of fabric or sometimes of metal. Fabric colors did not necessarily match the colors of the feast or season; again, the best or highest-quality frontal would be used for feasts, and those of lesser quality for more “ordinary” days. Later, altars set against walls would be decorated with a similar, one-sided cloth called an antependium. For the celebration of Mass, other white cloths would be placed on the altar on top of this one: a longer, narrow white undercloth, and a smaller linen square called the corporal on top, specifically for the chalice and paten.63 Other small cloths were also provided for use at certain points during the Mass: the small linen finger towel, usually used to wipe the presider’s fingers dry after the ritual handwashing (the lavabo) at the offertory; and the larger purificator, normally used to wipe the lip of the chalice after the presider (and today, other communicants) received the consecrated wine. It could also be used after communion to wipe the chalice clean (to “purify” it) after it had been rinsed.

As time went on, it became the custom to veil the chalice at the start of Mass. These “palls” or chalice veils were often heavily embroidered, and the background color came to match the liturgical color of the day. The corporal would also be brought in with the chalice, folded into a stiff, square fabric envelope called a burse. This, too, came to match the chalice veil in color and decoration. These fell into widespread disuse after the liturgical renewal of Vatican II in the Ordinary Form, but are more regularly used in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Another kind of veil or pall is used during funeral liturgy: the funeral pall. Today this is a large white cloth, often embroidered with a cross or other design, that is ritually spread over the casket after it has been brought in the rear door of the church for the funeral. Family members may take part in this ritual act, which is meant to bring to mind the white garment of baptism donned by the deceased earlier in life.64

The Eastern churches also make use of special altar linens or cloths: in Byzantine and Greek use, there are several types of veil (sindon). The altar is clothed with a large underlying cloth (katasarkion), on top of which rests another (ependysis). The paten and chalice are veiled by the aer (Greek), and a purificator or sponge may also be used (mousa, Greek). In the Byzantine rite, a special cloth or veil, the epitaphion, is used during Holy Week and Easter. As the name suggests, this cloth is decorated with a picture of the burial of Christ; it is carried in procession twice during Holy Week and remains in the church as a special object of veneration during the Easter season.65

Other kinds of larger “architectural” cloths or veils have also been used in Christian liturgy. Since the 4th century, references have been made to a canopy supported over the altar. These canopies were made of wood or metal, a four-posted frame with a dome over the altar and immediate surrounding area. In the East, the custom of veiling the altar during the Eucharist seems to have begun in the 4th century; as time progressed, the chancel barrier and icon stand developed into the sanctuary “wall” known as the iconostasis in some Eastern rites, making these earlier veils obsolete.66

In the West, from the 7th century, rings or rods for fabric altar veils or curtains might be attached to these frames in some places. However, altar veils in the West seem to have fallen into disuse, certainly by the 13th century, perhaps because of the shift from “oral” to “ocular” communion and the increasing need for the people to be able to see the newly added elevation of the host at the consecration.67 It has been suggested that the custom of veiling the sanctuary area during Lent (in England, Germany, parts of Spain and Italy) is a vestige of the more general use of altar veils.68 For example, in the 11th century it became the custom in some churches to erect a special veil in front of the altar itself, called a “hunger cloth,” during Lent.69 The purpose was to block the altar from the view of the congregation, sometimes explained as a “fast of the eyes.”70 Hunger cloths were later reduced in size; in fact, they are still designed and displayed as objects for meditation today.71

The custom of veiling statues of Mary and the saints and crucifixes during Lent also seems to date from the high Middle Ages.72 This custom continued in Roman Catholic churches until the Second Vatican Council, when it was made an optional observance. It is interesting to note that, while veneration of the wood of the cross on Good Friday seems to have begun in the 4th century, the use of crucifixes depicting the suffering Christ on the cross for this Good Friday ceremony (held on other occasions as well) seems to have begun in Germany in the 11th century.73

Finally, an important Eastern liturgical floor covering, one without any corresponding parallel in the West, should be noted. In Byzantine and Slavonic churches, a special rug called the aetos (orletz), or “eagle,” is provided for the bishop when he presides at the liturgy. It is a semicircular rug depicting an eagle flying over a battlemented city, and it appears to have been “a wholesale adoption of the mark of the Byzantine imperial court.”74

It is also used by the candidate during the liturgy for the consecration of a bishop; he stands on different sections of the rug during certain parts of the rite.

Changing Use and Changeless Meaning

It is clear that as the Christian liturgy itself changed and developed over the course of the past twenty centuries, the vestments and vessels used during these celebrations did also. Not only have their various shapes and sizes changed, and their ornamentation become more or less elaborate, but also their significance to the rites has been understood and interpreted differently by different generations. One thing should remain clear, however: in a Christian faith founded on the key theological concept of the incarnation, no physical expression of that incarnate and redeemed reality can be dismissed as insignificant.

Further Reading

Chrysostomos, Archimandrite. Orthodox Liturgical Dress. Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1981.Find this resource:

    Foley, Edward. From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist. Revised and expanded edition. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008.Find this resource:

      Holeton, David R. “Vestments.” In The New Westminster Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship. Edited by Paul F. Bradshaw, 464–471. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 2002.Find this resource:

        Mayo, Janet. A History of Ecclesiastical Dress. London: Batsford, 1984.Find this resource:

          Norris, Herbert. Church Vestments: Their Origin and Development. New York: Dutton, 1950.Find this resource:

            Pierce, Joanne. “Early Medieval Vesting Prayers in the Ordo Missae of Sigebert of Minden (1022–1036).” In Rule of Prayer, Rule of Faith: Essays in Honor of Aidan Kavanagh, O.S.B. Edited by Nathan Mitchell and John Baldovin, 80–105. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996.Find this resource:

              Pocknee, Cyril. The Christian Altar in History and Today. London: Mowbray, 1963.Find this resource:

                Reynolds, Roger. “Altar-Altar Apparatus.” In Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Volume 1. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1982.Find this resource:

                  Reynolds, Roger. “Vestments, Liturgical.” In Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Volume 12. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1982.Find this resource:

                    Woodfin, Warren. The Embodied Icon: Liturgical Vestments and Sacramental Power in Byzantium. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.Find this resource:


                      (1.) Aidan Kavanagh, “Liturgical Vestiture in the Roman Catholic Tradition,” in Raiment for the Lord’s Service: A Thousand Years of Western Vestments, ed. Christa C. Mayer-Thurman (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1975), 13.

                      (2.) There are several standard works on liturgical vestments. The most comprehensive is Joseph Braun, Die liturgische Gewandung im Occident und Orient (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1907); a much condensed article, “Vestments,” appears in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 15 (1912). Other summaries include “Vestments,” by David Holeton, in The New Westminster Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 2002), 464–471 (hereafter NWDLW); “Vestments, Liturgical,” by John D. Laurence, in The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1990), 1305–1315(hereafter NDSW); Janet Mayo, A History of Ecclesiastical Dress (London: Batsford, 1984); Cyril Pocknee, Liturgical Vestiture: Its Origins and Development (London: Mowbray, 1961); Ludwig Eisenhofer, Handbuch der katholischen Liturgik, vol. 1 (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1932), 342–472. For Roman Catholic vestments on the eve of the Second Vatican Council, see Adrian Fortescue and J. B. O’Connell, The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described (Westminster, MD: Newman, 1962), 31–35.

                      (3.) Ronald John Zawilla, “The Alb,” in Clothed in Glory: Vesting the Church, ed. David Philippart (Chicago: LTP, 1997), 8–11.

                      (4.) Ronald John Zawilla, “Vesting the Ordained,” in Clothed in Glory, 22–23.

                      (5.) For a complete discussion of the development of medieval vestments in the West, see Roger Reynolds, “Vestments, Liturgical,” in Dictionary of the Middle Ages, Vol. 12 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1982), 397–404.

                      (6.) See Pierce, “Early Medieval Vesting Prayers.” See also Josef A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1 (New York: Benziger, 1951) 286; and Braun, Die liturgische Gewandung, 149–247.

                      (7.) Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, 280–281. Following Braun, he notes three general categories of allusions, from the earliest to the more recent: moral/ethical; the priest as Christ; and the mass as Christ’s Passion.

                      (8.) Pierce, 91. A second, slightly longer oration accompanied the act of putting on the stole, alluding to the “easy yoke” of Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:29–30); see p. 92.

                      (9.) Latin text from the Missale Romanum (New York: Benziger, 1961) lxvii; approved English translation from My Sunday Missal (n.p.: Confraternity of the Precious Blood, 1944) 12.

                      (10.) “General Instruction to the Roman Missal,” no. 81.

                      (11.) Summorum Pontificum, 2007.

                      (12.) Braun, “Vestments.”

                      (13.) CCCM 140 (1995), 140A (1998), 140B (2000).

                      (14.) Braun, “Vestments.”

                      (15.) Ronald John Zawilla, “The Cope,” in Clothed in Glory, 37–40.

                      (16.) Niles Yates, Liturgical Space: Christian Worship and Church Buildings in Western Europe, 1500–2000 (London: Routledge, 2008, 2017), 23.

                      (17.) For more detail and further bibliography, see Joachim Heubach, “Geistliche Kleidung,” in Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon, vol. 2 (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1988), cols. 34–39.

                      (18.) Martin Dudley, “Colours, Liturgical,” NWDLW, 121.

                      (19.) Heubach, “Geistliche Kleidung,” cols. 37–38.

                      (20.) See individual entries in Elisabeth Trenkle, Liturgische Geräte und Gewänder der Ostkirche (Munich: Slavisches Institut, 1962), and in Peter D. Day, ed., A Liturgical Dictionary of Eastern Christianity (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993), hereafter LDEC. The latter is especially helpful in providing “A Quick Reference Guide” index of names of vestments and objects that vary from rite to rite (315–327), as well as a comparative table of Eastern and Western vestments (table 6, 333). See also Braun, Die liturgische Gewandung. For a more complete discussion in English, see Chrysostomos, Orthodox Liturgical Dress, and Woodfin, The Embodied Icon, on diaconal vestments, pp. 5–9, sacerdotal vestments, pp. 9–13, episcopal vestments, pp. 13–20, and other specialized (“privileged”) vestments, pp. 20–32.

                      (21.) Chrysostomos, Orthodox Liturgical Dress, 45–46.

                      (22.) Chrysostomos, Orthodox Liturgical Dress, 32, 49–50.

                      (23.) Chrysostomos’s point here is that these elements were influenced by clothing and other insignia used in the imperial court, and are thus distinctly different from Western vestments.

                      (24.) Chrysostomos, Orthodox Liturgical Dress, 57.

                      (25.) Chrysostomos, Orthodox Liturgical Dress, 60.

                      (26.) Chrysostomos, Orthodox Liturgical Dress, 62–63.

                      (27.) LDEC, “Zewd,” 311.

                      (28.) Dudley, “Colours, Liturgical”; see also Reynolds, “Colors, Liturgical,” Dictionary of the Middle Ages, Vol. 3 (New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons, 1984), 484–485; and G. Thomas Ryan, “The Use of Liturgical Colors,” in Clothed in Glory, 41–43. For a more complete discussion, see William Hope and E. G. Cuthbert F. Atchley, An Introduction to English Liturgical Colours (New York, Macmillan, 1920).

                      (29.) Hope and Atchley, Introduction, 24–25.

                      (30.) Hope and Atchley, Introduction, 25–26.

                      (31.) De sacro altaris in mysterio 24; cited in Pocknee, Liturgical Vestiture: Its Origins and Development (London: Mowbray, 1961), 48.

                      (32.) Cited in Pocknee, Liturgical Vestiture, 48. For the full English translation, see Timothy M. Thibodeau, ed. and trans., William Durand on the Clergy and their Vestments (Chicago: University of Scranton Press, 2010) Book 3, Chapter 18, paragraph 9, p. 219. For the original citation, see Anselme Davril and Timothy M. Thibodeau, eds., Guillelmi Duranti, Rationale Divinorum Officiorum I–IV (Turnholt: Brepols, 1995), Book 3, Chapter 18, paragraphs 1, 8; CCCM 140.

                      (33.) Laurance, “Vestments, Liturgical,” NDSW, 1311–1312. He notes a distinction made in the United States between the bluish violet (Advent) and the reddish purple (Lent).

                      (34.) Dudley, “Colours, Liturgical,” 122.

                      (35.) See D. R. Dendy, The Use of Lights in Christian Worship, Alcuin Club Collections 41 (London: SPCK, 1959), for a more detailed discussion.

                      (36.) Dendy, The Use of Lights, 151–175.

                      (37.) Fortescue and O’Connell, The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, 28–29.

                      (38.) LDEC, “Lights on Altar, The,” 160–161.

                      (39.) Trenkle, “Dikirotrikira,” Liturgische Geräte und Gewänder der Ostkirche and Chrysostomos, Orthodox Liturgical Dress, 64.

                      (40.) See Dendy, The Use of Lights, 128–150, for an overview.

                      (41.) See Joanne M. Pierce, “Holy Week and Easter in the Middle Ages,” in Passover and Easter: Origin and History to Modern Times, ed. Paul Bradshaw and Lawrence Hoffman, Two Liturgical Traditions 5 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999), 167. For a complete description, see A. J. MacGregor, Fire and Light in the Western Triduum, Alcuin Club Collections 71 (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992), 7–132.

                      (42.) Pierce, “Holy Week,” 173–174, and MacGregor, Fire and Light, 299–319.

                      (43.) For an introduction to liturgical books, music, and vessels throughout Christian history, see Edward Foley, From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist , rev. ed. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008). For a short summary, see also Jerome Overbeck, “Vessels, Sacred,” NDSW, 1300–1305. For a complete discussion of the Christian altar, furnishings, and vessels, see Braun, Das christliche Altargerät (Munich: Hueber, 1932).

                      (44.) Overbeck, “Vessels, Sacred,” 1301.

                      (45.) Foley, From Age to Age, 63–65, 117–119, 169–170, 224–226.

                      (46.) Foley, From Age to Age, 63–64, 116–118, 167–169, 222.

                      (47.) James F. White, A Brief History of Christian Worship (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1993), 123.

                      (48.) Foley, From Age to Age, 280–281.

                      (49.) Foley, From Age to Age, 62–63, 119, 225–227.

                      (50.) LDEC, “Zeon,.” 311.

                      (51.) LDEC, “Asterisk,” 26.

                      (52.) See Edward Foley et al., A Commentary on the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2007), 303, 337.

                      (53.) See NDSW, “Chalice, Modes of Distribution of,” by John M. Huels, 175–176.

                      (54.) Michael Pfeifer, Der Weihrauch: Geschichte, Bedeutung, Verwendung (Regensburg: F. Pustet, 1997), 45–53. Other background reading on incense includes E. G. Cuthbert F. Atchley, A History of the Use of Incense in Divine Worship (London: Longmans, Green, 1909); and Roger E. Reynolds, “Incense,” in DMA, vol. 6(New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons, 1985),431–433.

                      (55.) See LDEC under individual entries; also Trenkle, “Weihrauchfass.” Liturgische Geräte und Gewänder der Ostkirche.

                      (56.) See Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, vol. 1, 330–332.

                      (57.) See S. J. P. van Dijk and J. Hazelden Walker, The Myth of the Aumbry: Notes on Medieval Reservation Practice and Eucharistic Devotion (London: Burns and Oates, 1957).

                      (58.) See o Nathan Mitchell, Cult and Controversy (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1982); and Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1991), for more complete treatments.

                      (59.) See Foley, From Age to Age, 223–224, 276–278.

                      (60.) LDEC, “Artophorion,” 25.

                      (61.) See Overbeck, “Vessels, Sacred,” 1303–1304.

                      (62.) LDEC, “Alabastron,” 7.

                      (63.) Jonathan Goodall, “Veil,” NWDLW, 463–464, ; see also G. Thomas Ryan, “The Altar Cloths and Other Linens,” in Clothed in Glory, 60–67.

                      (64.) Julia Upton, RSM, “Burial, Christian,” NDSW, 148.

                      (65.) “Epitaphion,” LDEC, 89–90, and “Altar Cloths,” LDEC, 10–11.

                      (66.) “Iconostasis,” LDEC, 126–127.

                      (67.) Foley, From Age to Age, 197–198. See also Pocknee, The Christian Altar, 62: “Sometimes a dark curtain was drawn behind the altar as a contrast to the white wafer.”

                      (68.) See Pocknee, The Christian Altar, 56–62, for a more complete discussion.

                      (69.) Pocknee, The Christian Altar, 62.

                      (70.) Adolf Adam, The Liturgical Year (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1981) 106.

                      (71.) Adam, The Liturgical Year, 106.

                      (72.) Adam, The Liturgical Year, after the 11th century; Pocknee, from the 10th century. “At that time Christ was depicted on the Cross as alive and triumphant rather than in anguish of death, while statues of the Saints were intended to reflect their heavenly glory. To veil these things during the penitential season of Lent seemed fitting and appropriate” (Pocknee, The Christian Altar, 63).

                      (73.) See Pierce, “Holy Week,” 167–169, especially n 40; and Pierce, “New Research Directions in Medieval Liturgy: The Liturgical Books of Sigebert of Minden (1022–1036),” in Fountain of Life, ed. Gerard Austin (Washington, DC: Pastoral Press, 1991), 51–67.

                      (74.) LDEC, “Orletz”, 220; and Chrysostomos, Orthodox Liturgical Dress, 63.