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Chasuble

Modern Western Church chasuble. Modern Western Church chasuble.

A chasuble is a Christian liturgical vestment used in the Eastern and Western Churches. The term chasuble derives from the Latin word casula (cloak [previously called a paenula] literally a little house or cottage, casa), via the Late Latin term casubla, meaning a garment with a hood.

A chasuble is a large, sleeveless garment (similar to a poncho) consisting of a circular or (later on) rectangular piece of cloth with a hole in the centre through which the head is passed. It is often made of a decorative woven and/or embroidered material, often a damask, a brocade or velvet, and lined with silk. Linen is sometimes used as an interlining.It is often provided with decorative bands down the front and/or the back of the garment, called orphrey.

The chasuble is worn by priests for the celebration of the Eucharist and takes the liturgical colour of the Mass being celebrated. The priests generally wear it over the alb, the simple undergarment, mostly made of white linen. Bishops and other higher Roman catholic clergy wear a dalmatic over the alb and under the chasuble. 

The chasuble used to be bell-shaped or conical. In the Middle Ages, the sides of the chasuble were shortened to allow for easier movement of the arms. The front and back were lengthened and sometimes reached to the ankles. By the eighteenth century, the chasuble's shape had changed again, and received the form of a 'fiddleback' at the front (and a rectangular shape at the back). By the mid-nineteenth century, the older, and more graceful Medieval form gained again in popularity. 

In the Eastern Churches (Byzantine Rite), the equivalent vestment is called a phelonion.

Sources:

  • BAILEY, Sarah (2013),  Clerical Vestments, Shire Library, Oxford, pp. 13-16.
  • COATSWORTH, Elizabeth, and Gale R. OWEN-CROCKER (2012). 'Chasuble', in: Gale Owen-Crocker, Elizabeth Coatsworth and Maria Hayward (eds.). Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles of the British Isles, c. 450-1450, Brill: Leiden, p. 117.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 8 March 2017).

GVE/WV

Last modified on Sunday, 12 March 2017 10:35