What Are Vestments?
The garments worn by the clergy during services are known as vestments. This general term applies to any garment worn such as the cope, mitre, chasuble and stole. This page is for information only and should not be treated as an indication of what is adopted or used in our own parish.
This gives the appearance of a cape and is often of gold or white material. Bishops and high ranking ministers sometimes wear them in church. In some other churches, all ministers wear them for church festivals or other special occasions such as weddings.
This is the most easily identifiable of the garments which takes the form of a triangular headpiece worn by Bishops.
This is the one garment worn that most people would regard as being the vestment. It traditionally consists of a single piece of material with a hole in the middle for the head. Today these may be tailored with elaborate designs that carry a theme by virtue of the predominant colour that they bear, and will relate to the particular time in the church’s year. These are worn at St Columba church.
This gives the appearance of a scarf and is sometimes used to show rank or qualification due to the manner in which it is worn. For example, a priest would wear it round both shoulders but a deacon over only the left one, diagonally across the body to the right hip. It may also be worn in unforeseen emergencies on its own such as a baptism of a dying baby.
Representation Of The Church’s Year Through Colour
Vestments are made in the colours according to the particular given time of the Christian year.
This is regarded as the colour of celebration. It is used for the major festivals (e.g. Christmas and the twelve days after, and Easter) and for Saint’s days (provided the Saint wasn’t a martyr). The symbolism is of peace, joy, innocence, purity of the soul and holy triumph.
This colour symbolizes that of blood and the Spirit. Used for feast days associated with the Holy Spirit and martyred Saints (e.g. Pentecost, St Peter). Red is the symbol of passion for God and a reminder of the tongues of spiritual fire at Pentecost.
This symbolizes creation, faith and hope. Green is used on the Sundays after Epiphany and Sundays after Pentecost, which is a large portion of the church’s year, and when other colours are not required.
Purple (pink or violet hues)
This is usually used in seasons of preparation (Advent and Lent). It is also used for vigils or penitential times and symbolizes humility and penance. Some traditions prefer purple to black for funerals.
This is sometimes used for funerals, on All Souls’ Day and Good Friday. It is associated with death and mourning. Black is also the colour used for formal wear for the clergy. This reflects the academic study most churches require of their leaders. At other offices and services, Preaching Scarves may be worn, these are often black for clergy and blue for lay leaders (for example Readers in the Anglican traditions) or to show affiliation to monastic orders that wear black (e.g. Benedictines).
This colour is very rarely worn. Some traditions use this colour for solemn holy days like All Souls.
This is used for robes and in rarer cases for vestments. Some traditions use this colour for lay preachers’ or deacons’ robes to show a person’s rank rather than the season or festival.