QUAERITUR: folded chasuble

folded chasubleFrom a reader:

Yesterday, a 75-year old monsignor asked me if I’d ever seen a chasuble folded in front.   I replied, No, only in the back. At TLM ordinations.

He said he’d seen chasubles folded on the front once, back at the seminary he attended in the 1950’s, but didn’t remember why they were folded that way.

Would you know?

Before the reforms of the liturgy back in the 1950’s there was a vestment called the folded chasuble, planeta plicata.  It was used in penitential times.  They were either cut very short in the front, or they were folded and button up or tied.  They were worn by the deacon and subdeacon.   I think they were still used in some rites such as ordinations for some time after.

The folded chasuble also developed into the “broad stole”, which was the folded chasuble folded a lot more and worn as a band diagonally across the chest.  You can see it to the right of the circled folded chasuble, above.

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10 Responses to QUAERITUR: folded chasuble

  1. Legisperitus says:

    Fascinating stuff. Thanks.

  2. Andrew says:

    NLM on 3/08/09 ran an article titled: “Use, History and Development of the “Planeta Plicata” or Folded Chasuble by Shawn Tribe”

  3. uptoncp says:

    Fortescue (2nd edition, 1919, p. 254) says of folding the chasuble up at the front, ‘This is the exact opposite of the old rule, that they should be folded up the sides as far as the shoulders, thus making them exactly the size of the Baroc chasuble now common.’

    Also, at the Gospel, ‘Formerly [the deacon] folded [the folded chasuble] lengthwise and put it over his shoulder. It is difficult to do so with the badly made and generally stif chasubles so much in vogue since the eighteenth century. He is therefore allowed to use instead a broad band of purple silk (black on Good Friday), incorrectly called a “broad stole.” ‘

  4. dominic1955 says:

    While I respect Fortescue’s scholarship, I think he definitely had an axe to grind with everything baroque.

    He is correct though. The original folded chasuble (because of the conical and “Gothic” cuts) would be actually folded, though more like a Byzantine chasuble (I forget their name for it). The “broad stole” was originally one of those chasubles basically rolled up like a soldiers great coat and slung over the shoulder. When the chasuble cut changed, the folded chasuble and broad stole came into their vestigial forms as we see them in the “fiddleback” cuts. Their use also recalls an earlier time in which the chasuble was not solely a priestly vestment, since both deacon and subdeacon use them.

    I’ve seen them in use personally a few times (by you know who) and in the vestment drawers of our local TLM parish. I tried to get our priest to use them one time (tongue in cheek) but we didn’t have a broad stole, so dalmatic and tunicle it was!

  5. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    As far as the reforms of the fifties go, I think the position of the SSPV is a little more well thought out (if less pragmatic) than the SSPX. All reforms starting after 1948, and particularly the reforms of Holy Week, were part and parcel of the assault on the liturgy that was to come – opening salvos, if you will. I regret the needless abandoment of this ancient custom.

  6. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Fr, once again an awesome picture becomes included in your article. What book did you get that from? Better yet perhaps you should start posting citations with your pictures, becuase the resources or places you get this from may be worth reading and visiting.

  7. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Optime Z., folded chasubles were not used in ordinations per se, they were used by the deacon and subdeacon of the Mass when ordinations were done on a day that required their use, such as an Ember Day of Advent. When a priest was first ordained, he was at first clothed in a chasuble which was pinned up at the back; after the communion of the Mass, the bishop un-pinned it. At the ordination of Deacons and Subdeacons, the ordinands were clothed in dalmatic and tunicle, even if the ordination took place on a day that required the used of the folded chasuble by the ministers of the Mass.

  8. Fr. Basil says:

    In the Russian tradition, a short phelonion (chasuble) is the vestment for tonsuring a reader, but it is worn on that occasion only.

  9. Centristian says:

    I saw the folded chasuble at the SSPX seminary I studied at in Winona. I don’t remember whether I was curious enough about it to ask what it meant at the time. But now I am, so my question is…why?

    What does the pinning-up of the front of a chasuble, or the folding of it and wearing it as a stole, actually signify? How does wearing an article of vesture in a way that it was never intended to be worn indicate a penitential season?

  10. Trevor says:

    “As far as the reforms of the fifties go, I think the position of the SSPV is a little more well thought out (if less pragmatic) than the SSPX. All reforms starting after 1948, and particularly the reforms of Holy Week, were part and parcel of the assault on the liturgy that was to come – opening salvos, if you will. I regret the needless abandoment of this ancient custom.”

    I think that position is a little naive. To say that “everything before 1948=good” and “everything after 1948=bad” ignores that many of the changes were almost universally supported by liturgists of the day (even ones who’d later disagree with some of the liturgical reforms of the Council).

    One such reform was that vestments should have specifics purposes, and that one vestment should not be able to double for another. If folding vestments came about because they needed to be distinguished from regular Roman clothing, then is it still necessary to fold them once the clothing of liturgical ministers is distinct from the common dress? Or if we continued folding vestments throughout the medieval period because some churches had few vestments and wanted to “stretch” their use, then is it necessary to continue this practice when appropriate vestments are readily available? I also agree with Centristian. What does a folded vestment signify? The Liturgical Constitution says the rites have to “clearly express the things they signify”. I think a dalmatic is much more clear sign of a deacon than a folded chasuble.