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Priestly vestments | The clothing of the clergy

The priestly vestments are the ecclesiastical habit consisting of a jacket, shirt, and trousers. With a black breastplate and white collar, usually of black or dark gray cloth, worn by the priest. This term often indicates the typical white collar in a priest’s clothing. Thanks to these distinctive clothing features, the canto identifies a priest at first sight, even outside the walls of a sacred place. They are, therefore, simple and delicate symbols indispensable to distinguish a man of God. 

The clergyman’s garments are called “sacred vestments,” those special garments that churchmen wear during sacred celebrations. This custom of distinguishing oneself in the shape of the dress during the celebration of holy rites from any other moment of life had spread and established itself during the early years of Christianity.

But what does the cassock represent today, and what is the origin of these priestly vestments that are so important today? We want to tell you about it in this new article on our blog. Enjoy the reading!

The distinction of the priestly vestments

The distinction, starting from the dress, has developed both for the understanding. And for the experience of what is being celebrated, which is something different from the routine of our daily life. That is, to make us understand and experience that the liturgical celebration world is very important and sacred. Therefore, the distinction of the habit also has a pure character towards God and his majesty, being the Lord, the King of Glory.

In the early years of Christianity, there was no color distinction in liturgical clothing. Mainly the priestly vestments themselves, like the color of the angel who announced the Resurrection of Christ to the women, were in most cases white and very simple in shape. The advent of the ferocious anti-Christian persecutions did not allow a distinction of priestly vestments for safety reasons. The fact is, however, that priestly vestments could not be intended for use outside of celebrations. A difference was therefore created in the dress of the ecclesiastics between the so-called ” choral ” habit of daily use and the sacred vestment used exclusively during the celebrations of holy rites.

Representation of the Priestly Vestments

priestly vestments


Key Verse

“ You will make sacred vestments for your brother Aaron as a sign of dignity and glory. You will speak to all wise men, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, and they will make Aaron’s vestments so that he may be consecrated and serve me as a priest. “

Exodus 28.2-3

The priestly vestments yesterday and today

Only some people know that stringent and codified laws governed ecclesiastical clothing. In the past ecclesiastical dress was governed by stringent and codified laws. Each member of the clergy, priests, and friars, could be easily recognized thanks to the priestly vestments they wore. In most cases,s it was possible to understand immediately which religious order a churchman belonged to thanks to the type of garment he wore. 

We are talking about ancient times. Today this is no longer the case, and with the advent of modernity, these rules have changed and adapted to the new society. The reasons are simple. Priests today need to be able to move with practicality and carry out the duties of spiritual guides. And lend support and support to the faithful in much more practical and earthly matters than in the past. These reasons are indissolubly linked to the priest’s need to continue showing his belonging to the church and Jesus Christ in his appearance and clothing. We always remember that the priest is the one who embodies God and manifests his presence on earth.

It is, therefore, evident that wearing priestly vestments is a way to remind oneself and be faithful to one’s role and one’s spiritual closeness with God. This aspect has a strong psychological and social impact on those who meet in the church. The faithful know that the priest is the living testimony of God.

The importance of the collar

Despite the importance of the rules that determine the priest’s clothing, many priests choose not to wear religious clothing.  Particularly the clerical collar. Yet, the clergyman would be enough, even alone, to make the priest identifiable with ease and immediacy.

The clerical collar was first introduced in the 19th century. It was initially made of white cotton or linen and buttoned around the neck over ordinary clothes. Today the collars are often made of plastic and, in some cases, can be replaced by the partial collar. The latter can be tucked under the collar of the cassock or shirt to show only a tiny portion.

In some cases, instead of the jacket over the priest’s shirt, it is possible to use a vest or a sweater to attend more informal occasions. Therefore, the clergyman suit originates from the attire of Anglo-Saxon Protestant pastors. Roman Catholicism took its cue from the practicality and comfort of clothing and welcomed it as a religious habit and a symbol of Catholic identity.

Meaning of the clergyman shirt

The term clergyman generally refers to the religious habit worn by priests outside of celebrations. This term typically refers to the classic clergyman shirt, which unequivocally characterizes the priest’s outfit. One of the most common details is the white collar which can be of two models. 

In the second model, on the other hand, a white plastic insert is inserted inside the shirt collar, thanks to the two slits in which the corners are inserted. This way, the characteristic white square in the middle of the collar is obtained.

Clergyman shirts are made of falafel, poplin, or blends. The recurring colors are dark gray, light gray, blue, white, and black.

The types of clergymen

Today the priest can find modern and functional ecclesiastical shirts and dresses of any kind. As we have said, priestly vestments are available in fulfillment. A breathable, resistant, and light fabric is made thanks to intertwining two threads of fine cotton, poplin, or blends. You can find them with short or long sleeves, elegant and comfortable to wear with practical pockets and buttons on the front hidden. This way, the priest can choose a suitable model for every occasion.

The polo shirt represents a valid alternative to the shirt. The priest can choose a shirt with a clerical collar and a “civilian” collar. Also, in this case, long-sleeved and short-sleeved models are on the market to adapt perfectly to the priest’s lifestyle. Over the polo or shirt, the priest can choose whether to wear a jacket, a crew neck, a sweater, or a vest. Are you looking for the cassock for yourself or to give to your parish? You can find the best models made with care and attention on Amazon; you can find the best models made with care and attention.