It is the central vestment for the Holy Mass worn by a priest over all the other parts of liturgical clothing. Originating from a Roman conical cloak protecting from cold, it has retained its form throughout the Middle Ages.

Its sides gradually became shorter allowing more freedom of movement, until it became similar to a magnificent shield. The 19th–20th century liturgical movements returned the ancient form of a cloak to the chasuble.


The cope is a sumptuous outer liturgical vestment. It is worn during processions and various liturgical services, with the exception of the Holy Mass. In the beginning, it performed the function of protection from cold in chilly monasteries, and was made from black woollen cloth.

The cope has retained a relic of the former mantle protecting from bad weather, the hood, which has become a decorative element.


The dalmatic is the central liturgical vestment of a deacon, the first order of ordained ministry. Canons and bishops wear the dalmatic under the chasuble, thus expressing the entirety of spiritual ordinance.

Having become part of the liturgical costume in the 4th century, the dalmatic is derived from a long wide-sleeved ungirdled tunic worn in the Dalmatian province of the Roman Empire.

Other liturgical vestments

Liturgical vestments were supplemented by other elements. The stole is a long band with broadened ends, which became an indispensable attribute of the Holy Mass in the 9th century. At that time, the maniple worn on the left forearm was also included among liturgical vestments. 

The mitre, a bishop’s headdress, became established in the liturgy in the 11th–12th century. The gremial was a magnificent cloth laid across the knees of a bishop at a certain point in the liturgy.

Liturgical textiles for altar and church decoration

Sets of liturgical vestments were often supplemented by sumptuous textile implements of the altar. The veil and burse are coverings that conceal the chalice of the Holy Mass at certain moments in the liturgy.

Antependia decorating the frontal part of the mensa were made from expensive materials: silk, brocade and velvet, and were embroidered with gold and silver threads and decorated with appliqué and painting.