Who can wear a Cope?

Who can wear a cope in procession? Can a priest wear one, or is it reserved for the office of the Bishop?

I ask this because I recently saw an old video recording a mass in which the priest wore one. Has anyone ever been to a mass at which a priest wore one?

Yes, in the Traditional liturgy, for the Asperges the priest would wear one. This was also because strictly speaking the asperges was a monastic practise and not part of the Mass exactly. In 1967, it was decided that the priest would wear a chasuble for the Asperges and with the NO, the Asperges is within the Mass and so of course, the priest wears a chasuble.

The cope is worn at other liturgical and extra-liturgical services both in the ordinary and extraordinary form by a priest.

Is the cope the vestment that priests wear for Benedcition that covers their hands while they hold the monstrance?

The vestment the priest uses to cover his hands during Benediction is called a Humeral Veil. It is also used in the Classical Rite during Solemn High Mass when the subdeacon handles the sacred vessels. The cope is the cape-like vestment underneath.

And apparently, at least in more recent practice, laymen can wear the cope in some circumstances–when the non-ordained monks here at Belmont Abbey preside at Solemn Vespers, they vest in habit, surplice, and cope (at least I’ve been told this is appropriate…I’ve not seen any rubrics regarding it).


Ahh, thanks. I didn’t realize it was two pieces–although now that I think about it, I should have realized that! :smiley:

The traditional Caeremoniale also calls for cantors to wear copes at Pontifical Vespers.

The cope, as its very Latin name PLUVIALE suggests, is in origin a raincoat that the ladies of the altar guild got a hold on. It is worn by the Celebrant at Solemn Vespers (and Lauds), and properly by the 2 or 4 cantors.

Someone should subtitle this tread “Who can Cope?” :smiley:


This does make me wonder - if the cope was originally a rain coat what garment to traditional catholic priests wear over their cassocks when it’s raining? :wink:


I believe a deacon can also wear a cope in procession if carrying the monstrance. Also, I believe the rubrics call for a deacon may “cope” if officiating at Baptism or witnessing the Sacrament of Matrimony outside of Mass.

A priest may vest thusly as well for those ceremonies. Generally, the chasuble is worn during Mass, and the cope for liturgical ceremonies outside of Mass. I have a Bible published by Belmont Abbey in the 50s that has pictures of the then Bishop of Richmond Confirming some children in the Abbey Church, and he was vested in a cope (and some spiffy white shoes…)


Hi Pious Mat,

Whilst googling for an image of a cope, I found this blog entry. I bolded the part about this particular “great cope” being reserved for Bishops, Cardinals, etc.

September 05, 2005
Cappa Magna Sighting

http://www.andrewcusack.com/cappamag2.jpgHis Eminence George Cardinal Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, happily donned the traditional (and these days rarely seen) cappa magna during his presence amongst the Juventutem pilgrims at the recent World Youth Day in Germany. His Eminence, known for his Australian candor, is seen above blessing young folks outside the Düsseldorf church designated for the use of the Juventutem traditional Catholic youth.
The Catholic Encyclopedia informs us that the “great cope” is not a liturgical vestment per se but rather a glorified version of the cappa choralis (choir cope), and is reserved for cardinals, bishops, and certain privileged prelates.
***Photos from the FSSP***.


That’s the cappa magna-a piece of choir dress for prelates and not a Mass vesture. The cope and the cappa are two different animals.

I think the general rule is that clerics presiding at a non-Mass liturgy should wear a cope (the most common parish example of a non-priest doing this is probably a deacon presiding at exposition of the blessed sacrament). If you look beyond NO regulations to the various classical western liturgies, though, you see that, for instance, the acolytes who carry a bishop’s pontificalia in the Roman rite are all 4 vested in copes, the same is true of various cantors, acolytes, and choir boys in solemn versions of the rites of Braga, Lyons, Toledo, etc. In certain monastic usages, all the clerics present (not sure about the lay brothers) would vest in copes for specific liturgies, even though only attending in choir. It’s probably one of the most versatile vestments in the traditional Catholic repertoire.

I think my pastor is wearing a cope in this picture (I think this was during some sort of Marian procession):

Explore Al Snow

It’s good to know your pastor can “cope.” :smiley:

As a Deacon I wear a Cope for baptisms and weddings as well.

God Bless

Archbishop Burke wore this for the ICRSS ordinations this past June as well in St. Louis


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