Tridentine Mass

In the Tridentine Mass, during the elevation of the Body and Blood of the Lord it appears (at least in photos), that other servers are lifting the cope that the priest wears. Why is this?


It’s a hold-over from the days when the chasubles were very heavy and ornate and so somewhat awkward when the priest elevated the MS Body and the MP Blood.

I looked this up sometime ago (my nephew asked me about it after I took him to TLM for his first time). Can’t remember where I found it, but the answer was that if it were not done, the chasible would pull up on the sleeves of the vestment underneath and expose the bare arms of the priest - and that was thought to be immodest at Mass and in the presence of the Eucharist.

Not so much that they were “heavily laden with ornaments” as it had to do with the material and the way they were cut.

So the answer - the action symbolizes modesty and reverence for Our Lord.

Peace in Christ,


The material was generally heavy brocade with a lot of emboidery (ie, that WAS the material). It wasn’t a slam, either. I’ve read even traditionalist sites that admitted what I posted.

What’s a brocade?

Brocade is a type of fabric. It is woven in such a way as to produce an ornamental design in the fabric. It is often heavy and is very beautiful.

Its the chasuble that is lifted, not the cope. The chasuble is the vestment worn by the priest during the celebration of Holy Mass. The cope is a large cape or cloak worn by the priest in ceremonies outside of the Mass.

The practice of lifting the hem of the chasuble during the elevations dates back to the Middle Ages when the Gothic-style chasubles worn by the priests were made of a heavy material and often ornamented with gold and jewels. The weight of the vestment would often by too heavy for the priest to lift the Host and the Chalice easily, without fear of spilling the Precious Blood, so the Deacon and Subdeacon (or the servers in the case of Low Masses) would take the hem of the chasuble.

Of course like many Liturgical traditions which began for practical purposes this aquired symbolic meaning over time. The chasuble the priest wears recalls the seamless robe worn by Our Lord, and to hold the edges of it reminds us of the story of the woman who touched the hem of Christ’s robe so she might be cured. This action also represents holding the robes of Our glorified Lord and King, as it is a sign of reverance and honor (much like trains of royal robes or the cappa magna worn by Bishops are held by attendants).

It’s a very thick, heavy, ornately embroidered cloth. It was used for upholstery, bed spreads, etc., as well as vestments. It was very expensive. If you go to the missions in California, you can see lots of vestments made of this. If you go to the Santa Ynez mission, you’ll even see the copes and chasubles used by Blessed Junipero Serra himself.

It was a carryover from ancient times. The Chasuble descended from a Roman type of overcoat (Imagine wearing a long and heavy blanket with a hole for your head to pass through and you’ll get an idea). To facilitate arm movement, the chasuble is drawn over the arms, only you need not to move your arms too much or it will slide off. But since the Priest moves his arms around during Mass, it became necessary to hold the chasuble to prevent such mishap. Eventually, the Chasuble was solely used in the Liturgy and ceased to be an everyday garment, then the sides were gradually trimmed to help the arms move around starting from the Middle Ages, arriving at the ‘fiddleback’ form somewhere in the 18th Century. By then, the gesture was symbolic and is very much a relic of the past.

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