Catholic History


A NARROW vestment made of the same stuff as the chasuble, and worn round the neck. The Pope always wears the stole. Bishops and priests wear it at Mass the priest crossed over his breast, the bishop, who has already the pectoral cross on his breast, pendant on each side. They always wear it whenever they exercise their orders by administering sacraments or by blessing persons or things. In some places it is, in others it is not, worn in preaching, and the custom of the place is to be followed (S. C. R. 12 Nov. 1837, 23 Maii, 1846). Deacons wear it at Mass, or at Benediction, etc., when they have to move the Blessed Sacrament, over the left shoulder, and joined on the right side.

Stole i. e. stole in classical Greek in the LXX and New Testament means a robe of any kind, sometimes (e. g. in Mark xii. 38, Luc. xx 46) a costly or imposing garment. In Latin stola was the upper garment worn by women of position The conjecture of Meratus (on Gavant. tom. i. P. ii. tit. i.) that our stole is the Roman stole of which only the ornamental stripe has been left, is very unlikely, considering that the stole was, almost exclusively, a piece of female attire. The stole is never mentioned by that name before the ninth century. Theodoret ("H. E.," ii. 27) speaks of "a holy stole" (hiera stole) given to Macarius by Constantine, but he only means a "sacred vestment" in general; and Germanus of Constantinople at the beginning of the eighth century identifies the stole with the phelonion or chasuble, and distinguishes it from the orarion or stole according to our modern usage (Galland. Bibliothec." tom. xiii. p. 226).

This word orarium belongs to the later Latin, and means a cloth for the face, a handkerchief. It was also used "in favorem," to applaud at theaters, etc., and sometimes worn as a scarf. The first mention of it as an ecclesiastical vestment occurs about the middle of the fourth century, when the Council of Laodicea (can. 22 and 23) forbade clerics in minor orders to use it. A sermon attributed to Chrysostom, and probably not much later than his time, compares the deacons to angels, and the "stripes of thin linen on their left shoulders" (tais leptais othonais tais epi ton aristeron omon) to wings ("Homily on the Prodigal Son," Migne, vol. viii. 520). In the West, for a long time after, orarium was used for a common handkerchief or napkin (Ambros. "De Excess. Sat." lib. i. 43; August. "De Civit. Dei," xxii. 8; Hieron. Ep. lii. 9; Prudent. "Peristeph." i. 86 ; Greg. Turon, "De Gloria Mart." ii. 93; Greg. Magn. Ep. vii. 30. So the Council of Orleans in 511). It is in the Spanish church that we find the earliest traces of the orarium or stole as a sacred vestment among the Latins. The Council of Braga in 563 (can. 9) speaks of the orarium as worn by deacons; a Council of Toledo in 633 recognizes it as a vestment of bishops, priests, and deacons (can. 28 and 40). Another synod of Braga in 675 mentions the present custom according to which priests wear the orarium crossed over the breast (can. 4); while the Synod of Mayence in 813 (can. 28) requires priests to wear it not only at Mass but habitually as the Pope does now, to mark their sacerdotal dignity, Several of the Ordines Rornani (the third, fifth, eighth, ninth, and thirteenth), also mention the orarium. Hence we may conclude that from about the time of Charlemagne the orarium or stole was generally adopted throughout the West as a vestment of bishops, priests, and deacons. The Greeks have always regarded the orarium as a vestment peculiar to deacons. The epitrachelion peritrachelion of priests differs both in form and in the manner it is worn from the orarium of deacons. The Syrian Christians have adopted the same word orro, ororo, but with them the orro is worn by clerics of all the orders. Readers among the Maronites wear the orro hanging from the right shoulder, subdeacons in all the Syrian rites round the neck, deacons on the left shoulder, priests round the neck and in front of the breast. The Syrians also use the same word for the omophorion or pallium of bishops. (See Payne Smith, "Thesaurus Syriacus," col. 101, 102, sub voc. * * * .) Hefelesays it appears from ancient pictures that down to the twelfth century the deacon's stole hung over the left shoulder, and was not, as now, fastened together on the right side below the breast. Till a late period the stole was worn outside the dalmatic, as now by the Greek deacons over the sticharion. Hefele finds the earliest notice of a deacon's stole worn under the dalmatic in a Salzburg Pontifical of the twelfth century, and in the fourteenth Roman Ordo, compiled about 1300. Bishops, however, wore the stole over the alb and under the tunicella and dalmatic as early at least as Rabanus Maurus ("De Cleric. Inst." i. 19, 20) i. e. about 816.

The same author (loc. cit.) speaks of the orarium which "some call stole." This is the first certain instance of the use of the latter word, for its place in the Gregorian Sacramentary may be one of the many interpolations to which liturgical books are peculiarly subject. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries stole became the common word (so, e. g. the Synod of Coyaca, in the diocese of Oviedo, anno 1050 can. 3). The oraria on ancient pictures are exactly like our stoles, resembling the pattern known as Gothic. They were often adorned with jewels, bells hung from them, and letters or words were worked in. Hefele acknowledges his failure, after much search, to find the reason why the word "stole" came to be used for orarium. The vestment has been taken as a symbol of the yoke of Christ (PseudoAlcuin), of Christ's obedience (Innocent III.) The prayer in our present Missal evidently refers to the original meaning of the Greek stole. "Give me back, O Lord, the stole or robe of immortality," etc.

Dove. Symbol of the Holy Ghost

DOVE is frequently used as a symbol of the Holy Ghost, who appeared at Christ's baptism under that form. The custom of depicting the Holy Ghost in this form is mentioned by St. Paulinus of Nola, and must have been familiar to Eastern Christians in the sixth century: for the clergy of Antioch in 518, among other complaints made by them to the see of Constantinople against the intended bishop Servius, accuse him of having removed the gold and silver doves which hung over the altars and font (kolumbethra) and appropriated them, on the ground that this symbolism was unfitting. The dove as a symbol of the Holy Ghost is often placed in the pictures of certain saints e. g. of Fabian, Hilary of Arles, Medard of Noyon, etc. It is also a figure of innocence, and so, e. g. the souls of SS. Eulalia and Scholastica are represented as flying to heaven in the form of a dove. Lastly, the dove serves as a figure of peace and reconciliation (see Gen. viii. 11).

A vase in the form of a dove (peristerion, peristerium) was in the East and in France suspended over the altar and used as a repository for the Blessed Sacrament. This custom is mentioned by the author of an ancient Life of St. Basil, by St. Gregory of Tours, and in several ancient French documents. Martene mentions that even in his time such a tabernacle was still in use at the church of St. Maur des Fosses. The custom probably came to France from the East, for it never seems to have existed in Italy.


THE greater doxology or "ascription of glory is usually called, from its initial words, the "Gloria in Excelsis." It is not mentioned by the earliest writers, but it is found nearly, though not quite, as we now have it in the Apostolic Constitution (vii. 47), so that it can scarcely have been composed, as is asserted in the "Chron. Turonense," by St. Hilary of Poictiers, and the real author is, as Cardinal Bona says, unknown. It was only by degrees that it assumed its present place in the Mass. In Gaul, according to St. Gregory of Tours, it was recited after Mass in Thanksgiving. St. Benedict introduced it into lauds; while it was also recited on occasions of public joy e. g. in the Sixth General Council. It was sung at Mass according to the use of the Roman Church first of all on Christmas Day, during the first Mass in Greek, during the second in Latin. It was of course on Christmas night that the first words of the "Gloria in excelsis " were sung by the angels. Afterwards bishops said it at Mass on Sundays and feasts, priests only at the Mass of Easter Sunday, as appears from the Gregorian Sacramentary. This rule lasted till the eleventh century. At present it is said in all masses, except those of the dead, of ferias which do not occur in the Paschal season (it is said, however, on Maundy Thursday) Sundays from Septuagesima to Palm Sunday inclusive. It is not said in votive Masses, except those of the Angels, and the Blessed Virgin on Saturday.

II. Lesser doxology i. e. "Glory be to the Father," etc., recited as a rule after each psalm in the office and after the "Judica" in the Mass. Forms resembling it occur at the end of some of the Acts of the Martyrs e. g. those of St. Polycarp. St. Basil ("De Spiritu Sancto ad S. Amphilochium," which work, however, is of doubtful authenticity) defends the formula "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," contends that its antiquity is attested by early Fathers, Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, etc., and that it is at least as ancient as the Arian form, "Glory be to the Father in" or "through the Son," etc. Anyhow, the former part of the Gloria must date as far back as the third or fourth century, and arose no doubt from the form of baptism. The concluding words, "As it was in the beginning," are of later origin. The Gallican Council of Vaison, in 529, ordered their use, adding that they had been already introduced in Rome, Italy, Africa, and the East, against heretics who denied the Son's eternity. And the rule of St. Benedict contains directions for the recital of the Gloria after each psalm. (Benedict XIV. " De Missa," Kraus, art Doxologia


DREAMS arise, according to St. Thomas (2 2ndae, qu. 95, a. 6,) from interior or exterior causes. Among the former he enumerates the thoughts which occupied the mind in waking hours, and the state of the body. Among the latter, the effect produced on the bodily organs by material things e g. cold and heat; sound or light, etc. and also the influence of good or evil spirits. It is reasonable to believe that God may speak to the soul through dreams, for the influence of God extends to sleeping as well as to waking hours; and that God has used dreams as a means of revealing his will is fully attested by the Old and the New Testament (see Gen. xx. 3, 7, xl. 5; Num. xii. 6; Matt. ii. I2, xxvii. I9). Accordingly, to regard dreams proceeding from merely physical causes as indications of a future with which they have no natural connection, is superstitious and therefore sinful. It is also, of course, unlawful to seek or accept signs of future events in dreams from demons. But, on the other hand, if there are grave reasons for doing so, we may lawfully believe that a dream has been sent by God for our instruction. But it is to be noted that a disposition to trust in dreams is always superstitious, for in the Christian dispensation there is a strong presumption against their use as means of foretelling the future. Even in the Old Testament the greater number of predictive dreams were given to those outside the Jewish covenant. If given to God's servants, they were given to them, as a rule, in the period of their earliest and most imperfect knowledge of Him. In the New Testament, often as we read of ecstasies and visions, dreams are never mentioned as a vehicle of revelation, and they rarely occur in the lives of the saints.

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