Why do priests wear a white collar?


Anyone know that why Catholic priests wear a white collar for clergy shirts? I have heard that It started out as something from popular fashion and then later took on a deeper spiritual meaning. Anyone knows the specific meaning?



It’s a relatively recent thing, borrowed from the Protestants. The Wikipedia article has a brief history here:



EWTN does not attribute the collar to protestants:


You find pictures that support EWTN’s argument as well.

For instance, here is St. Vincent de Paul (who dies in the early 1600s) wereing his collar outside his outer garments:

Another 17th Century priest Saint John Eudes

And the 17th Century Bishop of Antwerp



Neither of those have any historical continuity with the present-day collar, except, vaguely, as cousins of what would become the Protestant collar that the Church recently adopted. You wouldn’t find a clerical collar of any sort on an Italian, French, Spanish or Polish priest until well into the twentieth century.


It depends upon what you consider a ‘Clerical Collar’. If you mean a black button down shirt with a white tab at the throat, yes. That is protestant. The protestants did not, however, invent that look to identify clergy. They were simply the first to adapt it to something other than a habit or cassock. What we now consider the Roman collar was in widespread usage in conjunction with the cassock at the time of the Reformation. You can see a remnant of this in the habits of the Theatines and other Orders of Clerics Regular. They were founded in 1524 in Italy and took the style at the collar from the established fashion for clergy at the time. They did not wear a full Roman Collar simply to differentiate themselves from the diocesan clergy. Many Protestants ministers did not want to wear the cassock of the Catholic Clergy, but still wished to be identified in a well known manner so they simply took the collar off of the diocesan cassock and put it on a normal shirt.


If you are saying that the collar started out as a Catholic practice, later abandoned but then adopted by the Protestants, from whom the Catholics reborrowed it in the 19th century, I might agree. If you are implying a continuity entirely within the Church between 16th century neckware and present-day Roman collars, then that would be incorrect. Present-day Catholics borrowed it from English Catholics, who borrowed it from English Anglicans, who borrowed it from Scottish Presbeterians, with a succession of borrowing and evolution within Protestantism before that until you hit a possible borrowing from Catholics.

Weirdly, a lot of Protestants have recently abandoned the collar because it has become, in their minds, associated with Catholicism.

Here’s a good article that summarizes the evolution of the collar within Protestantism:



I meant that Protestants originally borrowed the collar from the neckline of the Roman Cassock and applied it to a contemporary shirt to distinguish themselves from the Roman Clergy but still be identified as a minister. Eventually, the cassock began to fall out of popularity and the Catholic Clergy moved the clerical shirt.


It’s because they’re white collar workers.

drops the mic


Ok. I get it.

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