Catholic History


SCHISM (schisma). A tear or rent (Matt. ix. 16; Marc. ii. 21): a division of opinion (John vii. 43; ix. 16; x. 19); party spirit in the Christian Church (i Cor. i. 10; xi. 18; xii. 25); and then, in Fathers and theologians, a technical word to denote formal separation from the unity Of the Church. "Schismatics," says St. Thomas ("2ndæ," II. qu. xxxix., a. I), "in the strict sense, are those who of their own will and intention sever themselves from the unity of the Church." This unity of the Church, he continues, consists in the connection of its members with each other, and of all the members with the head. Now, this head is Christ, whose representative in the Church is the Supreme Pontiff. And therefore the name of `schismatics' is given to those who refuse to be under the Supreme Pontiff and to communicate with the members of the Church subject to him." Further, he thus explains the difference between heresy and schism. Heresy is opposed to faith, schism to charity; so that, although all heretics are schismatics, because loss of faith involves separation from the Church, all schismatics are not heretics, since a man may, from anger, pride, ambition, or the like, sever himself from the communion of the Church and yet believe all that which the Church proposes for our belief. Still, a state of pure schism i. e. of schism without heresy cannot continue long at least, in the case of a large number of men. The words of St. Jerome (on Titus. cap 3), quoted by St. Thomas, are to the point "Schism at the beginning may be understood as something different from heresy, but there is no schism which does not invent some heresy for itself, in order to justify its secession." History abundantly, confirms this observation. Bodies which at first separate from the Church merely because they think their personal rights have been infringed, are sure, in the end, to deny the Church's unity and to lose the spirit of faith. And so St. Thomas remarks that, as loss of charity is the way to loss of faith, so schism is the road to heresy.

Schismatics do not, of course, lose the power of order; their priests can say Mass, their bishops confirm and ordain. But they lose all jurisdiction, so that "they cannot either absolve, excommunicate, or grant indulgences, or the like; and if they attempt anything of the kind the act is null" (loc, cit. a 3). Whether pure schismatics do or do not cease thereby to be members of the Church, is a question controverted in the Schools. Many theologians consider that all who retain integrity of faith are members of the Church. But all agree that they are not united to the Church by charity, that, if members, they are dead members, so that the question is of no great moment.


BERRETTA. A square cap with three or sometimes four prominences or projecting corners rising from its crown. There is usually a tassel in the middle where the corners meet. It is worn by a priest as he approaches the altar to say Mass, by ecclesiastics in choir, etc. It is of two colors, black or red. The latter color is used by cardinals, the former by all other clerics. A bishop's berretta should be lined with green; in other respects it is like that of an ordinary priest. A fourcornered berretta belongs to Doctors of Divinity, though Benedict XIV. mentions that in his time Spanish ecclesiastics generally wore a berretta of this kind1.

The word is derived from birrus, a mantle with a hood, and that again from purrhos, flamecolored. "At Rome," says Benedict XIV., "and in most churches, the berretta was unknown as late as the ninth century. Its ecclesiastical use began when priests gave up the ancient custom of covering their heads with the amice till the actual beginning of the Mass." (Benedict XIV. "De Miss." i. 9.)


CHALICE (calix, poterion). The cup used in Mass, for the wine which is to be consecrated. The rubrics of the Missal require that it should be of gold or silver, or at least have a silver cup gilt inside. It must be consecrated by the bishop with chrism, according to a form prescribed in the Pontifical. It may not be touched except by persons in holy orders.

We know nothing about the chalice which our Lord used in the first Mass. Venerable Bede relates that in the seventh century they exhibited at Jerusalem A great silver cup, with two handles, which our Savior Himself had used in celebrating the Eucharist, but antiquity knows nothing of this chalice, and it has no better claim to be regarded as genuine than the chalice of agate which is still shown at Valencia and claims also to be that used by Christ. Probably, the first chalices used by Christian priests were made of glass. It seems likely, at least, though the inference cannot be called certain, from Tertullian's words, that in his time glass chalices were commonly used in church, and undoubtedly such chalices were still common during the fifth century, as appears from the testimonies of St. Jerome and Cyprianus Gallus, the biographer of St. Cæsarius of Arles. Gregory of Tours mentions a crystal chalice of remarkable beauty, which belonged to the church of Milan.

However, even before persecution had ceased, the Church began, from natural reverence for Christ's blood. to employ more costly vessels. The Roman Book of the Pontiffs says of Pope Urban 1. (226) that "he made all the holy vessels of silver." So, too, we read in the acts of St. Lawrence's martyrdom, that he was charged by the heathen with having sold the altar vessels of gold and silver, and with having given the proceeds to the poor; while St. Augustine mentions two golden and six silver chalices, which were exhumed from the crypt of the church at Cirta. Of course, such precious chalices became more common when the Church grew rich and powerful. Thus St. Chrysostom describes a chalice "of gold and adorned with jewels." In 857 the Emperor Michael III. sent Pope Nicolas I., among other presents, a golden chalice, surrounded by precious stones, and with jacinths suspended on gold threads round the cup. A precious silver chalice adorned with figures belonged to the church at Jerusalem, and was presented in 869 to Ignatius of Constantinople. But it is needless to multiply instances on this head.

Still for a long time chalices of horn, base metal, etc., were still used, and Binterim says that a copper chalice in which Ludger, the Apostle of Münster, in the eighth century, said Mass, is still preserved at Werden, where he founded an abbey. But very soon afterwards chalices of glass, horn, base metal, etc., were prohibited by a series of, councils in England, Germany, Spain, and France, although chalices of ivory, and of precious stone (e.g. of onyx) were still permitted. Gratian adopted in the Corpus Juris a canon which he attributes to a Council of Rheims, otherwise unknown. The words of the canon are, "let the chalice of the Lord and the paten be at least of silver, if not of gold. But if anyone be too poor, let him in any case have a chalice of tin. Let not the chalice be made of copper or brass, because from the action of the wine it produces rust, which occasions sickness. But let none presume to sing Mass with a chalice of wood or glass." (Hefele, "Beitrage," ii. p. 322 seq.)

The practice of consecrating chalices is very ancient. A form for this purpose is contained in the Gregorian Sacramentary, as well as in the most ancient "Ordines Romani," and such consecration is usual among the Greeks and Copts. In the Latin Church, the bishop anoints the inside of the chalice with chrism, using at the same time appropriate prayers. The consecration is lost if the chalice be broken or notably injured, or if the inside is regilt. A decree prohibiting all except those in sacred orders to touch the paten or chalice is attributed to an early Pope, St. Sixtus, by the author of the "Liber Pontificalis". But Merati, who quotes this statement, admits that a Roman Ordo regards it as lawful for acolytes to do so. However, a Council of Braga, held in 563, confines the right of touching the sacred vessels to those who at leastare subdeacons.

Besides the chalice from which the priest took the Precious Blood, the ancients also used "baptismal chalices," from which the newlybaptized received communion under the species of wine, and "ministerial chalices" ("calices ministeriales," "scyphi"), in which the Precious Blood was given to the people. This "ministerial" chalice was partly filled with common wine, and into this wine the celebrant poured a small quantity of the Precious Blood from the "calix offertorius" i. e. the chalice with which he said Mass. (Benedict XIV. "De Miss." i. cap. 4.)

Chalice Veil.

THE veil with which the chalice is covered, called also "peplum" and "sudarium." It used to be of linen, but must now be of silk, as the rubric requires. The Greeks use three veils, one of which covers the paten, another the chalice, a third both paten and chalice. They call the third veil aer, because it encompasses the oblations. Cardinal Bona says this Greek custom began in the church of Jerusalem, and thence spread through the East. (Benedict XIV. "De Miss." i. cap. 5.)

Benedict XIV. considers the antiquity of the chaliceveil to be proved by one of the Apostolic Canons viz. 72 (al 73), which forbids the application of the church vessels or veils (othonen) to profane uses. Hefele thinks this canon may belong to the latter half of the third century. But there does not seem to be any reason for alleging that the veil meant is the chaliceveil. Gavantus says that the chaliceveil is mentioned in the liturgy of St. Chrysostom (which, however, has been altered since the saint's time); that silken chaliceveils were given to Pope Hormisdas (514523), and that Amalarius mentions the Roman custom of bringing the chalice to the altar wrapped in a veil.


THE part of a church between the altar and the nave, so named from the rails (cancelli) which separated it from the nave. The word was in use before the Reformation, and the Anglicans still retain it. Among English Catholics it is now little used, the portion of the church near the altar, separated by rails from the nave, being designated the "sanctuary." In cathedrals and conventual churches, where space is required to accommodate the canons or the religious, a portion of the church between the sanctuary and the nave is taken for the purpose; it is not however called the "chancel," but the "choir," Fr. choeur.


A VASE in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved The word occurs in this sense in a decree of Pope Leo. IV., who reigned from 847885. (Mansi, "Concil," xiv. 891). The pyx should be of silver, gilt inside, and covered with a silk veil. It is not consecrated, but the Missal gives a form or the blessing of a pyx by the bishop or priest with episcopal faculties. ("Manuale Decret." p. 76 note.)


THE use of the ciborium, or canopy over the altar, has been already described in the article BALDACCHINO. In English ciborium is the name commonly given to the pyx in which the Blessed Sacrament is kept. Pyx (also Vas) is the recognized name in our present liturgical books, and under that head the Subject will be treated. The name "Ciborium minus" is first used for the receptacle of the Blessed Sacrament, in the middle ages. It is found in an Ordo Romanus printed in the "Bibliotheca Patr." Lugdum vol xiii. 724. (Kraus, "RealEncyclopädie.")


GIRDLE (cingulum, balteum, zone). A cord with which the priest or other cleric binds his alb. It is the symbol of continence and self restraint, as is said by Innocent III., and implied in the prayer which the priest about to celebrate Mass is directed to use while he ties the girdle round his waist. The Congregation of Rites (January 22, 1700 lays it down that the girdle should be of linen rather than of silk, though it may also be (S. R. C., December 23, 1862 ) of Wool. Usually it is white, but the use of colored girdles, varying with the color of the vestments, is permitted (S. R., C., January 8, 1709).

As to the origin of the girdle, its use was common among Greeks and Romans in their daily life, and thence took its place, as a matter of course, among the liturgical vestments; but it is not till the beginning of the middle ages that we meet with liturgical girdles richly adorned. Anastasius, in the ninth century, mentions murænulæ i. e. jewelled girdles in the shape of lampreys or eels. We also read of girdles variegated with gold, and of others (zonæ literatæ) with letters or words woven in. The Greek girdle is shorter and broader than ours, and often richly adorned (See Benedict XIV. "De Miss;" Le Brun; Hefele, "Beiträge.")


AN ornamental vestment worn by subdeacons and by clergy of higher orders at Mass. It hangs from the left arm below the elbow (Ga. vantus says above the elbow, but he is corrected by Meratus), and is fastened by strings or pins. It is of the same color and material as the chasuble. Priests put it on before Mass after the girdle. Bishops do not take it till they have said the Confiteor at the foot of the altar. It is supposed to symbolize penance and sorrow, and the prayer which the priest is directed in the Missal to say as he puts it on alludes to this signification. "Be it mine, O Lord, to bear the maniple of weeping and sorrow, that I may receive with joy the reward of toil." And the prayer said by the bishop is much the same. Liturgical writers also see in the maniple a symbol of the cords with which Christ was bound on His capture.

Many writers, following Cardinal Bona, have thought that they could trace the mention of the maniple to Gregory the Great, who wrote to John of Ravenna because the clergy of that see had begun to use mappulæ, which up to that time, had been peculiar to Roman ecclesiastics. It has been shown, however, by Binterein, that the mappulæ were not maniples, but portable baldacchini. The mosaic of St. Vitalis at Ravenna (sixth century) represents the bishop and clergy without maniples, and it is not till the eighth and ninth centuries that any trace of the maniple is found. It was originally a handkerchief (hence the name manipulus) used for removing perspiration and the moisture of the eyes. Mabillon quotes from a document of the year 781, in which "five maniples" are named, along with other vestments. In 889, Bishop Riculf, of Soissons, required each church to have at least two girdles and as many clean maniples ("totidem nitidas manipulas"). In the tenth century, Bishop Ratherius forbade anyone to say Mass without amice, alb, stole, "fanone et planeta." The planeta is the chasuble; the fano (Goth. fana, allied to the Greek penos and the Latin pannus, and the same word as the modern German Fahne) is the maniple; hantfan or hantvan being the translation of manipulus or manipula in mediæval vocabularies.

The following are the principal changes which have occurred in the form and use of the maniple. Originally, as has been said, it was a mere handkerchief, used indeed at Mass, but then for ordinary purposes. But it was richly ornamented. Thus in 908, Adalbero, bishop of Augsburg, offered a maniple worked with gold at the shrine of St. Gallus. In the Basilica of St. Ambrose at Milan there are four figures of saints, constructed in 835, with ornamental maniples on their left arms, much like Gothic maniples of a much later date. Hefele gives a figure (belonging to the ninth century) of a priest with little bells on his maniple, in imitation doubtless of the bells on the coat of the Jewish High Priest. But even as late as 1100 Ivo of Chartres mentions the use of the maniple for wiping the eyes, and it was only gradually that the maniple became entirely of stiff material. The prayer in the Missal, as we have seen, still alludes to the old and simple use.

Again, in 1100 a Council of Poitiers restricted the use of the maniple to subdeacons, and such is the present custom. But only a little before the council Lanfranc speaks of the maniple as commonly worn by monks, even if laymen. A statute of the Church of Liège (1287) directs that the maniple should be two feet long, which is much more than its present length Moreover, since the chasuble used to cover the entire body the priest did not put on the maniple till the chasuble was raised after the Confiteor and his arm left free. A memory of the old state of things is preserved by bishops at their Mass. (Gavantus, with Merati's notes. Hefele, "Beiträge.")

Humeral Veil.

AN oblong scarf of the same material as the vestments, worn by the subdeacon at High Mass, when he holds the paten, between the Offertory and Paternoster; by the priest when he raises the monstrance to give benediction with the Blessed Sacrament; and by priests and deacons when they remove the Blessed Sacrament from one place to another, or carry it in procession. It is worn round the shoulders, and the paten, pyx, or monstrance is wrapped in it. According to Le Brun ("Explication de la Messe," i. p. 319), this veil was introduced because in many churches it was the ancient custom for an acolyte to hold the paten at High Mass, and he, not being in holy orders, could not lawfully touch the sacred vessels with bare hands. The Levites, as may be seen in Numbers iv., were only allowed to bear the sacred vessels after they had been wrapped up in coverings. This reason obviously does not supply any explanation of the use of the veil by the priest at Benediction, etc, But though the priest is permitted to touch vessels containing the Blessed Sacrament, he abstains from doing so at certain solemn moments out of reverence. We ought to add that the use of the humeral veil at Benediction is strictly prescribed in several decrees of the Congregation of Rites.


A GARMENT of white linen worn over the cassock in choir and in the administration of the sacraments. It is among the most familiar, and at the same time is one of the most modern of Church vestments. The word superfiellicium means a dress worn over a garment of skins. Such dresses of fur (pelliciæ) came into use among monks early in the ninth century, probably to protect them from the cold and damp during the long offices in church. The great Synod of AixlaChapelle in 817 (can. 22) ordered each monk to have two dresses of fur (pelliciæ). Over these pelliciæ a linen garment, the superpellicium or surplice, was worn in choir. It is uncertain when this last custom began. The surplice is mentioned in 1050 by the Council of Coyaca, and Durandus in 1286 speaks of its use as already ancient, but by no means universal. The Spanish synod just mentioned (can 3) requires it to be worn under the amice, alb, and the rest of the Mass vestments, and this usage is still recognized in the rubrics of the Roman Missal ("Ritus Servand." i. 2.) In the twelfth century it reached to the ankles, and so the Council of Basle in the fifteenth century requires canons in choir to wear surplices "ultra medias tibias." Cardinal Bona, more than two hundred years ago, speaks of surplices being already shorter than the rule of Basle required, but the pictures in Roman Pontificals of the last century show that the present form of the Italian surplice or cotta is very recent. To this day the length varies much in American churches, but it never reached below the knees, while in the new Italian fashion adopted by many of the English clergy the surplice does not reach nearly so far. It was not till the seventeenth century that surplices were commonly adorned with lace (Hefele, "Beiträge," vol. ii. p. 174, seq. ; see also ROCHET and Cotta.)


A VESTMENT open on each side, with wide sleeves. and marked with two stripes. It is worn by deacons at High Mass as well as at processions and benedictions, and by bishops, when they celebrate Mass pontifically, under the chasuble. The color should conform to that of the chasuble worn by the celebrant.

The word is derived from Dalmatia, and first occurs in the second century. The dalmatic (Dalmatica vestis) was a long undergarment of white Dalmatian wool corresponding to the Roman tunic. Ælius Lampridius blames the emperors Commodus and Heliogabalus for appearing publicly in the dalmatic. In the Acts of St. Cyprian we are told that the martyr drew off his dalmatic and, giving it to his deacons, stood ready for death in his, linen garment. In these instances the dalmatic was clearly a garment of everyday life.

According to Anastasius, Pope Silvester, early in the fourth century gave the Roman deacons dalmatics instead of the sleeveless garments (kolobia) which they had used previously. Gradually the Popes conceded the privilege of wearing the dalmatic as an ecclesiastical vestment to the deacons of other churches. Such a concession was made by Pope Symmachus towards the close of the fifth century, to the church of Arles. In the same way, the use of the dalmatic as an episcopal vestment was first proper to the Pope and then permitted by him to other bishops. Thus Gregory the Great allowed Aregius, bishop of Gap in Gaul, to wear a dalmatic, and Walafrid Strabo testifies that in the seventh century this Episcopal custom was by no means universal. But from the year 800 onwards ecclesiastical writers all speak of the dalmatic as one of the episcopal, and the chief of the deacon's vestments. The dalmatic was originally always white, but Durandus speaks of red dalmatics, symbolizing martyrdom. The Greeks have a vestment corresponding to our dalmatic, called slicharion or sloicharion, from the slichoi (lines or stripes), with which it is adorned; its color varies, just as the dalmatic of our deacons does, with the color of the phelonion or chasuble, worn by the celebrant. The Greek priests also wear a sticharion under the chasuble, but the former is always white.

Various mystical meanings have been attached to the dalmatic. When the arms are stretched it presents the figure of a cross; the width of the sleeves is said to typify charity; the two stripes (which were originally purple, and are probably a relic of the Roman latus clavus) were supposed to symbolize the, blood of Christ shed for Jews and Gentiles. (From Rock, "Hierurgia," and Hefele, "Beiträge," ii. 204 seq.)


CASSOCK (vestis talaris, toga subtanea, soutane). A closefitting garment reaching to the heels (usque ad talos), which is the distinctive dress of clerics. The cassock of simple priests is black, that of bishops and other prelates purple; that of cardinals, red; that of the Pope, white. Originally the cassock was the ordinary dress common to laymen; its use was continued by the clergy, while lay people, after the immigration of the Northern nations, began to wear shorter clothes, and thus it became associated with the ecclesiastical state. The Council of Trent, De Reform. cap. 6, requires all clerics, if in sacred orders, or if they hold a benefice, to wear the clerical dress; although in Protestant countries clerics are excused from doing so in public, on account of the inconveniences likely to arise.


TUNIC (tunica or tunicella). A vestment proper to subdeacons, who are clothed in it by the bishop at ordination, and exactly like the dalmatic, except that, according to Gavantus ("Thesaur." P. 1, tit. xix.). it is rather smaller. Even this distinction is not, so far as we know, generally observed. It is also worn by bishops under the dalmatic when they pontificate. Gregory the Great (Ep. ix. 12) says one of his predecessors had given the subdeacons linen tunics, and that some other churches had adopted this usage, but he himself had restored the old fashion, and left his subdeacons without any special vestment. There is no notice of the tunicella in the Gregorian Sacramentary. But the first (§ 6) and the fifth (§ I) of the Roman Ordines distinguish between a greater and less dalmatic, and the latter probably is our tunicle. Amalarius expressly marks ("Eccles. Offic." ii. 21, 22) the difference between dalmatic and tunicle, and tells us that some bishops wore one, some the other, some, as now, both. He says the tunic was also called "subucula," and was, when worn as an episcopal vestment, purple (hyacinthina). Honorius of Autun calls the tunicle ("Gemma," i. 229) "subtile," and "tunica stricta" (i.e. narrow); Innocent III. ("De Altar. Myster." i. 39 and 55), "tunica poderes."


THE linen cloth on which the body of Christ is consecrated. It used to cover the whole surface of the altar, as may be gathered from an Ordo Romanus where the corporal is said to be spread on the altar by two deacons. The chalice also was covered by the corporal, a custom still maintained by the Carthusians. The corporal is and must be blessed by the bishop or by a priest with special faculties. It represents the winding. sheet in which Christ's body was wrapped by Joseph of Arimathea.

Crib at Bethlehem.

THE actual crib in which Christ was born is said to have been brought from Bethlehem in the seventh century, and to be now preserved in the Liberian basilica at Rome. The present custom of erecting a crib in the churches at Christmas time with figures representing our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, etc., began during the thirteenth century in the Franciscan order. (Benedict XIV. "De Festis." i. n. 641, n. 679.)


COPE (cappa, pluviale). A wide vestment, of silk, etc., reaching nearly to the feet, open in front and fastened by a clasp, and with a hood at the back. It is used by the celebrant in processions, benediction., etc. but never in the celebration of Mass, for the Church reserves the chasuble for the priest actually engaged in offering sacrifice, and thus carefully distinguishes between Mass and all other functions. The cope is used in processions by those who assist the celebrant, by cantors at vespers, etc., so that it is by no means a distinctively sacerdotal vestment. Mention is made of the cope in the ancient Ordo Romanus for the consecration of bishops. No special blessing is provided for the cope (From Gavantus and Meratus.)

Crosier or Pastoral Staff.

CROSIER or Pastoral Staff (baculus pastoralis, pedum, cambuta) The staff given to the bishop at his consecration as the symbol of the authority with which he rules his flock. It is said that such a staff is first mentioned by Isidore of Seville (t 636). This staff is curved at the top, straight in the middle, and pointed at the lower end. Hence the mediæval line quoted by Gavantus, "Curva trahit, quos dextra regit; pars ultima pungit." The Pope alone of all bishops actually ruling a diocese does not use a pastoral staff. According to some, this is because the curvature in the staff is a token of limited jurisdiction (?).


CHASUBLE. (Lat. casula, pænula, planeta; and in Greek, phelonion or phelonion, from phainoles, phelones, identical with pænula). The chief garment of a priest celebrating Mass. It is worn outside the other vestments. Among the Greeks, it still retains its ancient form of a large round mantle. Among the Latins, its size has been curtailed, but it still covers the priest on both sides, and descends nearly to the knees. In France, Ireland, the U. S., and often in England, a cross is marked on the back: in Italy, this cross is usually in front. In the West, all who celebrate Mass wear the same chasuble, but among the Greeks, the chasuble of a bishop is ornamented with a number of crosses (phainolion polustaurion), while an archbishop wears a different vestment altogether, viz. the sakkos, which is supposed to resemble the coat of Christ during His Passion. In Russia, even bishops, since the time of Peter the Great, have worn the sakkos.

The chasuble is derived from a dress once commonly worn in daily life. Classical writers often mention the "pænula," or large outer garment which the Romans wore on journeys or in military service. "Casula," from which our word chasuble is obtained, does not occur in pure Latinity. It was, however, used in later ages, as an equivalent for the "pænula," or mantle. We first meet with the word in the will of Cæsarius of Arles (about 540), and in the biography of his contemporary, Fulgentius of Ruspe. In both instances, "casula" denotes a garment used in common life. Isidore of Seville (about 630) uses the word in the same sense, and explains it as a diminutive of "casa," because, like a little house, it covered the whole body. The same author tells us that "planeta" comes from the Greek Planao, "to wander," because its ample folds seemed to wander over the body. It is plain, from the examples given by Ducange, that "planeta," like "casula" and "pænula," denoted a dress worn by laymen as well as clerics.

It is in the former half of the sixth century that we find the first traces of the chasuble as an ecclesiastical vestment. In the famous mosaic at San Vitale, in Ravenna, the archbishop, Maximus, is represented wearing a vestment which is clearly the chasuble, and over which the pallium is suspended. The chasuble has the same shape which prevailed till the eleventh century. The Fourth Council of Toledo, in 633, makes express mention of the "planeta," as a priestly vestment. Germanus, Archbishop of Constantinople, about 715, uses the word phelonion in the same technical sense; while at the beginning of the ninth century, Amalarius of Metz speaks of the "casula" as the "general garment of sacred leaders" ("generale indumentum sacrorum ducum"). Almost at the same time, Rabanus Maurus gives the derivation of "casula" quoted above from Isidore of Seville, and goes on to say that it is "the last of all the vestments, which covers and preserves all the rest." Later authors of the middle age copy their predecessors; and even Innocent III. adds nothing of his own save certain mystical meanings implied in the use of the vestment.

To sum up, the chasuble was first of all an ordinary dress; from the sixth century at latest it was adapted to the use of the Church, till gradually it became an ecclesiastical dress pure and simple. But did it at once become distinctive of the priesthood? The question admits of no certain answer. The eighth "Ordo Romanus" distinctly prescribes that acolytes, in their ordination, should receive the "planeta" or chasuble. Amalarius, in like manner, declares that the chasuble belongs to all clerics. On the other hand, almost all ancient writers who refer to the Church use of the chasuble regard it as the distinctive dress of priests. Cardinal Bona mentions this difficulty without venturing to explain it. Hefele suggests that as the Greek phelonion signifies (1) a chasuble in the modern sense, (2) a kind of collar, reaching from the neck to the elbows, which is worn by lectors or readers, so the Latin word "planeta" may have been also employed as the name of two distinct vestments. But even if this explanation is correct, the fact remains that even now the deacon and subdeacon, in High Mass during Advent and Lent, wear chasubles folded in front, laying them aside while they sing the Gospel and Epistle. This custom is mentioned by Hugo of St. Victor (d. 1140)

The form of the chasuble has undergone great alterations. The ancient chasuble, which enveloped the whole body, was found very inconvenient and hence, in the twelfth century, it was curtailed at the sides, so as to leave the arms free. Of this kind is a chasuble said to have been used by St. Bernard. In shape, it resembles what is now known as the Gothic chasuble, although the ornaments upon it are not Gothic, but Romanesque. At a later date, the chasuble was still further curtailed, till in the Rococo period all resemblance to the original type disappeared. However, even in Italy, attempts were made to recall the ancient shape, at least to a certain extent. Thus St. Charles Borromeo, in a provincial council, ordered that the chasubles should be about four and a half feet wide, and should reach nearly to the heels.

Various symbolical significations have been given to the chasuble. The earliest writers make it a figure of charity, which, as Rabanus Maurus says, "is eminent above all the other virtues." This is the most popular explanation of the symbolism; but we also find it regarded by an ancient writer as typical of good works ~ ancient Sacramentaries and Missals consider it as the figure of sacerdotal justice, or of humility, charity, and peace, which are to cover and adorn the priest on every side; while the prayer in the Roman Missal connects the chasuble with the yoke of Christ. (Hefele, "Beiträge zur Kirchengeschichte, Archäologie und Liturgik," p. 195 seq.)


FRONTAL (antipendium, pallium). An embroidered cloth which often covers the front side of the altar. The color, according to the Rubrics of the missal, should vary with the feast or season. In early times the altar was open in front, so that there was no need of such a covering, and even now Gavantus says it may be dispensed with if the altar is of costly material, or fine workmanship. (Gavant. P. I. tit. xx.)

Explanation of Preface of the Mass.

A prelude or introduction to the Canon of the Mass, consisting in an exhortation to thanksgiving made by the celebrant, in the answers of the minister or choir, and a prayer ending with the Sanctus, in which God is thanked for his benefits. The Greeks have only one Preface, which in the Clementine liturgy is extremely long. The Gallican and Mozarabic rites, on the other hand, are rich in Prefaces, and so originally was the Roman liturgy, which from the sixth till about the end of the eleventh century had a special Preface for nearly every feast. About 1100 the number was reduced in most churches of the Roman rite to ten viz. the common one, found in nearly all the ancient Sacramentaries, and nine others named in a letter falsely attributed to Pelagius, predecessor of St. Gregory, and cited in the "Micrologus ," etc. viz. the Preface of Christmas, Epiphany2, Lent, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, the Trinity, the Apostles, the Cross. Urban II is said by Gratian, who lived fifty years later, to have added the Preface of the Blessed Virgin in 1095. The Sarum Use had "proper Prefaces" for the "Conception, Nativity, Annunciation, Visitation, Veneration, and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin." "The York Use added another for the days between Passion Sunday and Easter. The Hereford appointed the same Preface from Palm Sunday to Easter." (Maskell; the rest of the article is from Le Brun and Hammond.)


PRELATE (prælatus). A name for an ecclesiastical dignitary, whether among the secular or the regular clergy, who has a jurisdiction inherent in his office, and not merely one transmitted to him as the delegate of a superior. The designation is extended in a wider sense to the prelates of the Pope's Court and household, as having a superiority of rank. Prelature, or prelacy, is the status of a prelate. When the first Scotch Presbyterians raved against "Popery, Prelacy, and Erastianism," prelacy in their mouths was not exactly equivalent to "episcopacy;" they meant that they were in rebellion against canon law and ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It is true that they erected a new jurisdiction, far more burdensome and inquisitorial than the old one; on which see Buckle's "History of Civilisation," vol. ii. chap. v.

Why the Priest says "Ite Missa est."

THE meaning of the word Missa is discussed under MASS. Here it may suffice to say, that after the Gospel the catechumens were dismissed by the deacon with the words, Ite Missa est; Go, you are dismissed; literally "a dismissal is made;" and that the same formula was repeated at the end of the whole Mass. In the liturgies of St. James, St. Basil, and St. Chrysostom, we find the form "Let us go in the peace Of Christ," the people answering "In the name of Lord." "Benedicamus Domino" is substituted in Masses of ferias and Sundays in the penitential seasons, "Requiescant in pace" in Masses of the dead, because these Masses were followed by penitential prayers, and by the absolution at the tomb, for which the people waited. (Benedict XIV., "De Miss." Hefele, "Beiträge.")


BURSE (bursa, also pera). A square case into which the priests puts the corporal which is to be used in Mass. It was introduced in the fourteenth century. It should be of the same color as the vestments of the day. Usually it has a cross in the middle. The priest places it above the chalice, with the open side towards his own breast. When he reaches the altar, he extracts the corporal and places the burse on the Gospel side. Pius V. allowed the Spanish priests to carry the corporal outside the burse. (Benedict XIV. " De Miss." i. 5)9

1 Who, however, are forbidden to use this peculiar berretta in sacred functions S. R. C. 7, Dec. 1844 13LO there is some doubt as to the precise force of this decree.

2 So Le Brun, tom. ii.; but the letter, as given in Leofric's Missal, omits the Preface for the Epiphany and substitutes one for the dead (Maskell, Ancient Liturgies of the Church of England, p. 103 seq.).

Return to Contents

Return to Homepage.