Clergy of various ranks in vestments celebrating Mass according to the Neo-Gallican Rite of Versailles Elevation of the chalice.

Vestments are liturgical garments and articles associated primarily with the Christian religion, especially among the Eastern Orthodox, Catholics (Latin Church and others), Anglicans, and Lutherans. Many other groups also make use of liturgical garments; this was a point of controversy in the Protestant Reformation and sometimes since, in particular during the Ritualist controversies in England in the 19th century.

For other garments worn by clergy, see also clerical clothing.

Origins of vestments

In the early Christian churches, officers and leaders, like their congregations, wore the normal dress of civil life in the Greco-Roman world, although with an expectation that the clothing should be clean and pure during holy observances. From the 4th century onward, however, modifications began to be made to the form of the garments, and as secular fashions changed from the 6th century the church retained the original forms of their garments, although with separate development and with regional variations. The Catholic churches had essentially established their final forms in the 13th century.[1]

The Reformation brought about a new approach towards simplicity, especially under the influence of Calvinism. The Church of England experienced its own controversies over the proper use of vestments.[1] The resulting varieties of liturgical dress are described below.

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