An Explanation of Vestments
In the early days of the Church the clergy used no special vestments and they probably wore garments similar to their day-to-day clothes, but set aside particularly for use at the altar.
Many of the early Christians would not have been able to afford the Roman toga and therefore substituted for it a plain conical garment, reaching nearly to the ground, with a hole cut in the apex for the head.
As time went by Roman citizens began to wear this robe on public occasions, so it assumed a character of some solemnity and was naturally chosen as the most proper garment for priests. Subsequently it became rich and sumptuous, with much beautiful embellishment.
Chasuble The principal vestment and a garment, which may be slipped over the head and is open down each side to give the priest the maximum amount of freedom and movement. It is worn only for Eucharists.
Stole A coloured and embroidered scarf, worn round the neck by the priest. It was originally a sort of towel worn by the deacon over the left shoulder. It is a sign of the priesthood.
Maniple A form of embroidered napkin worn on the left wrist and derived from the towel used for cleansing the vessels. It is rarely used nowadays and is a symbol of service.
Cope A cloak developed from the chasuble for outdoor functions. The front was normally left unsewn and was held together with a clasp or ‘morse’'.
Dalmatic This is a garment with wide sleeves and is worn by deacons and bishops on certain occasions.
Veil A piece of material used to drape over the chalice at Eucharists.
Burse A square ‘board’ which is hinged to open either in a book or a bellow style. It is placed on top of the veil and chalice at a Eucharist.