The Common Attire of Eastern Catholic Priests

What are the different types of lay-time attire that Eastern Catholic Priests wear? If you could provide a picture it would be helpful :). The priests of the Syro Malabar Church wear a plain white cassock commonly and sometimes black suits in different countries.

Fr. Jose Ilikunnampurath
Previous Vicar of my parish.

Fr. Sebastien
From Kottayam.

The choir garb for a Maronite priest is a cassock with fascia, an outer cassock on top of that (called a jibbee) and optionally the hat that was initially reserved for the episcopate (called a tobbiyeh).
This is my bishop; the color of articles in his clothing denotes this: his buttons and lining are red, his fascia is violet (I think it should be red but anyway…), and the ribbons of his jibbee are red. In addition to the items held in common with lower priests, bishops also wear a hood (it’s not really visible under the hat) called an eskimo and the under the hood one should ideally wear a black skullcap called a phiro (meaning fruit, i.e. the fruit of the priesthood). These additional monastic items are derived from the fact that bishops were and are generally chosen from amongst monks.

It’s not only choir dress but, although rarely seen this days, particularly in the diaspora, it’s house dress as well. In the case of formal house attire, the jibbee is normally worn. In more informal settings, the jibbee usually left off. (It’s always worn for choir.) Monks wear the habit (including eskeemo & phiro) as house dress, of course, and the jibbee is added for choir.

In the Levant and elsewhere with warm climates, in summer the black cassock is often replaced by a cream colored one. This is true also of bishops, who sometimes have it with red buttons. Monks, too, will often don a cream colored habit in summer, but normally with a black belt, eskeemo and phiro.

I had no idea Maronite priests were allowed to where the fascia, I thought that was only for bishops, I’m probably just thinking with a Latin mind though :p.


Pictured above is Cardinal Mar George Alencherry of the Syro Malabar Church, being both of Syriac tradition I guess you could say the choir garb is somewhat similar to the Maronite Bishop. Mar Georges cassock is sometimes either white or black, he is also wearing the outer cassock you described being a (jibbee) though it is red, his crown is similar to a biretta but fashioned to look like a Syro Malabar Mitre, the crown also includes the St.Thomas Cross placed at the center top, Mar George does not wear the skullcap.

Latin priests are allowed it as well. Most priests opt not to wear it, and it’s black for roman priests.

Just to clarify, it’s black (or cream, to match the cassock) for Maronite priests as well.

Oh I see, I had seen only photos of Latin priests in Rome wearing the fascia but I thought they were perhaps higher ranking priests like Monsignori. In the U.S I have actually never seen a Latin priest wearing even the cassock only black suits or albs in some cases.

Syro-Malankara Bishops:

The Bishop is to wear red lining underneath the black robe in his diocese, but ideally none should wear red in the diocese of another, nor in the presence of the Catholicos.

The Catholicos in his secular dress wears the icons of St. Mary holding Christ, and Saint Thomas, the Cross in the center:

Priests traditionally wear the black robe, both during prayer and underneath but in India the white robe beneath became the norm due to weather:

Monks of some orders wear saffron:

The vestments are different during the Holy Qurbono, here, his Beatitude is on the far left:

As Maronite bishops do, the Syro-Malankara bishops also wear an eskimo, although of a different style, with 13 crosses:

I’m curious to ask if anyone knows of where the origin of the differences in eskeeme come from? Why do the Maronites and SCC almost wear a do-rag while the SO and Malankara wear a more seemingly nature hood?

The short answer is the same as for episcopal headwear. The Ottomans maintained a rule that each sect’s clerical clothing had to have its own distinguishing characteristics. Hence the variations in the eskeemo, and also those between the Maronite tobiyye, SOC koub’ono, COC 'emmeh, ACoE kousita and Chaldean shash. The SCC and CCC adopted variants of the Greek kamilavkion. The only ones who seem to have escaped the Ottomans were the Melkites, and I think that the historical circumstances of their “reunion” explain why. The churches in India were never affected by the Ottomans.

I am curious. Is there a particular significance to the red ribbons? Are they to be tied or left untied? It appears to be a distinct feature of the Maronite clergy.
I have seen it used though by patriarchs and bishops of the Armenian, Coptic, and Syriac Catholic Churches.

There’s nothing significant about the ribbon used for tying around the neck, it could be a button or any other cinture. These seem to be more versatile, since buttons would need adjusting if one’s neck size changes or if they are going to be shared among different clerics.

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