Monday, December 22, 2008

Catholic Priest Vestments- Part II

The alb is identical with the light tunic of antiquity, more precisely with the white tunic with sleeves (tunics manicata) which came down to the feet (tunics talaris, poderis, Gk. podeyes, chiton). Even into the Carolingian period this was ordinarily worn by the clergy as a part of the ordinary dress. The exclusion of the tunic from daily use raised the alb to the dignity of a specific liturgical garment. Apart from its cut and color, its origin is recalled by the strips of purple or of cloth of gold which were sewed on (clavi, forum; hence the names albce monolores, dilores, trilores), with other ornamental pieces of colored stuffs (paraturce, parurce), in the form of a square or an oblong; as there were five of these, a connection was found with the five wounds of Christ (cf. the designations plagce, plaguhe). In addition, further ornamentation, even complete pictures, came to be applied. After the sixteenth century a strong reaction set in; laces and edgings came into use. Recently linen lace is required and linen is also prescribed for the garment itself. The alb is worn by the clerics ranking not lower than subdeacon. The symbolism is purity and innocence.