Surplice

Surplice SurpliceA large-sleeved tunic of half-length, made of fine linen or cotton, and worn by all the clergy. The wide sleeves distinguish it from the rochet and the alb; it differs from the alb inasmuch as it is shorter and is never girded. It is shorter and is never girded. It is ornamented at the hem and the sleeves either with embroidery, with lace-like insertions, or with lace. The lace should never be more than fifteen inches wide, as otherwise the real vestment is necessarily too much shortened by this merely ornamental addition. The surplice belongs to the liturgical vestment in the strict sense, and is the vestment most used. It is the choir dress, the vestment for processions, the official priestly dress of the lower clergy, the vestment worn by the priest in administering the sacraments, when giving blessings, at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, etc.; in the last-mentioned cases it is the substitute for the alb, which, according to present custom, is worn only at Mass and a few other functions. The blessing of the surplice by the bishop or by authorized priest is proper, but not strictly prescribed. As the distinctive sacerdotal dress of the lower clergy the bishop, after giving the tonsure, places it on the candidate for orders with these words: "May the Lord clothe thee with the new man, who is created in righteousness and true holiness after the image of God." Read More