An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Eucharistic Vestments

Traditional liturgical garments worn at the celebration of the eucharist. In medieval times in the western church, priests officiating at the altar wore six garments over the cassock. These were the amice (a loose collar or hood), the alb (a full-length sleeved gown), and girdle. Over them was the stole, the maniple on the left wrist, and most conspicuously the chasuble (a robe covering front, back, and shoulders). These three were usually of fine fabric with ornamental needlework, with different liturgical colors being used for different days. In medieval times, symbolic meanings were attached to each item. Although they were disallowed in England in the sixteenth century, they were revived in the nineteenth century following the Oxford Movement. Evangelicals opposed them, preferring the customary Anglican surplice with tippet or stole. Today, with less polemical associations, eucharistic vestments are widely used in most Episcopal parishes. The maniple and amice are now typically omitted. The amice may be replaced by a hood attached to the alb. The girdle may be omitted.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.