Roman Chasuble versus Gothic

I’ve noticed recently that many (most?) priests who say the traditional Latin Mass wear Roman or “fiddleback” chasubles when doing so. Can anyone explain why this chasuble has become identified with the old Mass? I have researched the history of vestments and have learned that the Roman chasuble originated in the 15th century. Chasubles worn by high ranking clergy at that time had become so stiff and heavy with ornamentation that priests had trouble moving. The “solution” was not to simplify the ornamentation of the vestment, but to cut away its’ sides! Imagine the reaction if priests today began wearing heavily ornamented albs, and then shortened them to knee length to make moving more easy?

The Roman chasuble wasn’t, it seems, born of Divine inspiration and it didn’t evolve organically over time as did some other vestments. It was created in response to a “fashion” excess, and was in essence not much different than the trendy vestments worn by many priests today. Some did condemned it as being a departure from tradition when it first came into being.

Over time, it became hallowed in its own right. I am not at all suggesting that it should not be used. Some “fiddlebacks” are quite beautiful. In light its origin though, how did it become “normal” and why isn’t the Gothic chasuble the choice of traditionalists, who shun innovation and cling to ancient precident in so many ways? I am of course attempting to make a point, not about a chasuble “style”, but about what it represented in terms of faithfulness to tradition. If Latin Mass traditionalists rightly concern themselves with minute and important details of liturgy, then why not extend the same careful consideration to forms of vestments and how they measure up to precedent and historical continuity?


Well, I’m not much of a fan of the Roman chasuble (to me, they look like aprons, but I hasten to add that many chasubles cut the way I prefer look like polyester ponchos. Pope Benedict’s tailor in Rome seems to be attempting to turn that tide), BUT I’m not sure that the cutting away of the material couldn’t be regarded as an organic development. I don’t think that the alterations were mandated, but simply happened over time, ie, were organic.

Honestly, I like the ornamentation that accompanies most Roman Chasubles, but I like the more flowing look of the Gothic style. Perhaps if someone put them together…

Most gothic chasubles in use today lack the ornamentation they had in the past. While I prefer Roman vestments, there is such a thing as a nice Gothic chasuble.

This is a rather simple, yet elegant, style of Gothic chasuble. I like it, especially if the surroundings match the simple elegance.

I think the surroundings and the occaision should play a part in the use of vestments. Some styles of vestments go well with certain artistic and architectual styles, while the occiasion plays a very important role in the choice of vestments.

Well it is certainly better than some of the ponchos I’ve seen, even in Papal Masses.

Yes, the current Papal Master of Ceremonies, Archbishop Piero Marini, has kept the Pope in some truly rather ugly vestments for years now. During the recent visit to Austria, the Austrians wanted the Holy Father to wear some baroque vestments (quite suitable for the settings of the Papal Mass there), but His Excellency the Master of Ceremonies overruled them and had His Holiness wear these…

Art may be in the eye of the beholder, but all issues of personal taste aside- those are hideous! What was the MC thinking?! And they are blue! BLUE! We arent Anglicans! And what is that orb-thing with the barcode on it? :rolleyes:

This is unfortunate. The green in it looks like a light pea soup. In Rome, lately, however, I’ve seen the pope wear beautiful chasubles, all of them gothic or at least full cut (maybe that’s a better term?). He had a red one on a Pentecost that had golden tongues of fire embroidered all over it. I saw him in a green one with small golden crosses and I thought the one he wore at his installation was magnificent. All of these look like they were made of very fine material. Let’s hope the days of burlap and polyester vestments are passing.

Is that a bowling ball? And is that peek-a-choo on it?!

Surly this wasn’t at a mass.


Well, Marini is on his way out… replaced by another priest named Marini interestingly…

Yes, the Pope does have some nice vestments, though I could suggest some nicer ones ;).

While in other threads I have made my opinion clear that the Latin Rite should not readily adopt Eastern practices that had no previous place in Latin tradition, I must admit one aspect of Eastern tradition is tempting- the Eastern Patriarchs lead their respective Churches by example in their celebration of the Liturgy. I believe that the same should be true of the Holy Father.

Actually, it was corrected in an update which states:

Because you are clearly someone interested in factual accuracy, I am presuming to send you this email. Please note that according to a story published on September 7 in Der Standard/Panorama, the Mariazell vestments were commissioned by the Austrian bishops. Subject to the approval of the Vatican to be sure, but the initial choice does not seem to have been made by Archbishop Marini.

For some reason the Priests who offer the TLM here only use the Gothic Chasuble. Keeping in mind these are some of the biggest and most ornate chasubles imaginable.

One time the celebrant was a man of medium height and he had to kind of gather the chasuble up or risk tripping.:smiley:

What I want to know is… what’s with Tweety Bird? :slight_smile: (it looks like tweety bird on a bowling ball)

I don’t like the light blue and yellow either… (I like yellow, but it just doesn’t go good with light blue) He looks like an Easter Egg (the colors). Atleast the Papal hat remind me of something you’d put an egg in with those colors.

Ugh, the vestments at the outdoor Austrian Mass were horrible. Especially the Mitre. Looked like someone gave a 1st grader a box of colored paper and some glitter to make it.

A couple interesting images from the Dappled Photo’s Blog-

John Paul II in a beautiful Roman chasuble, with his Pontifical dalmatic underneath. That other piece over the chasuble is the fanon, which protects the chasuble from the pins of the pallium.

Then there is this picture…

I suppose choice in vestments is no real indication of orthodoxy.

And the above is one tiny little illustration of what I mean by “less is more.” They started using a fanon to protect the chasuble from pins, then it gradually becomes an institutionalized vestment and people get all up in arms when it gets set aside.

And bishops no longer wearing dalmatics AND chasubles? I think that’s a win for noble simplicity.

I do like that blog, though.

Dalmatic, Tunicle and Chasuble. Symbolizes that the bishop possesses the fullness of Holy Orders.

I should think the miter would be sufficient (yes, I know abbots can wear them as well). Anyway, I like it better the way it is now.

Abbots and certain ranks of Monsignors can wear the miter…

I suppose this is a matter of taste then. But I do think that the symbolism is important.

Looking at pics of the Holy Father, what do you think of his reversion to the ancient pallium? I can’t decide.

I think it was a good idea. It goes well with the Gothic vestments, and it was the Pallium used pre-1054, so, at least in my opinion, shows him as Bishop of the whole Church, whether the Orthodox believe it or not.

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