QUAERITUR: Maniple required for TLM? “Reformed” vestments?

I got this question by e-mail:

Greetings Father,

A question that the bishop and I were discussing today…If a priest celebrates Mass according to the Missal of 1962, is he REQUIRED to wear a maniple?  Certainly it would be preferable, but is it required? 

I am torn as to whether this is a matter of discipline, which would mean the reformed vestments would be acceptable in the Extraordinary Form, or a matter of rubrics, in which the priest would be bound by that particular missal.

Any documentation you or the readers could provide would be of great help.


I have written about maniples before.  Check here and here.

My first inclination is to say, yes, it is required.  If you have the maniple, it ought to be used.

In the editio typica of the 1962 Missale Romanum, we find in the first part of the Ritus Servandus the method of vesting.  In that section we find: Sacerdos accipit manipulum, osculatur crucem in medio, et imponit bracchio sinistro.  This seem pretty clear to me.

Moreover, the prayers to be said be the priest while putting on vestments, including the maniple are, in fact, printed in the 1962 edito typica of the Missale Romanum.  The prayers a bishop is to say, including that for the maniple, are also in the 1962MR.

Of course, no one is held to the impossible.  If there is no maniple available, that does not mean that the EF cannot be celebrated.  That would be silly, and it would never have been the case in the old days, either.

I think some silly people tried to block celebrations of the older Mass because, they claimed, you could not say Mass if you didn’t have the proper vestments.  That is far far too rigid an approach.

By "reformed" vestments I think you might be referring to variations from the old days. For example, if an alb closes at the nexk so that it entirely covers the street clothes or cassock, then no amice would be necessary.  Or if the alb is fitted, no cincture is necessary. 

BTW, how often do we see priests with their Roman, military, collars visible sticking out of their albs and chasubles during Mass, in violation of the rubrics.  Street clothes are to be covered! The collar of your shirt, or vest, or cassock, is part of your street clothes, Fathers!  But I digress.

The vestments had a purpose beyond the merely practical or functional.  They had a spiritual significance for the priest as he says Mass, a meaning which informs his words and actions at the altar. 

I fear that functionalism overtook a Catholic sense of things after the Council, must as the utilitarian spirit eviscerated sacred music and architecture.

Thus… against this error of functionalism, I remind you all of my anti-functionalist battle cry:


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  1. Agnes says:

    I know a priest who, when a maniple wasn’t available, tied a folded stole around his arm! Necessity is the mother of invention! :c).

  2. Boko Fittleworth says:

    My understanding is that many bishops, citing Summorum Pontificum (but only the part (in the accompanying letter?) that says bishops are in charge of the liturgies of their dioceses), have forbidden the celebration of TLMs without a maniple. They are also instituting a maniple test, which consists of a written part and a practical demonstration that the priest is idoneus as to the tying of maniples. Priests cannot say the TLM until they have passed the test, which will be administered as soon as the diocesan liturgical bureacracies assemble a panel to administer the test. Oh, and they have also banned maniples.

  3. brendon says:

    “I think some silly people tried to block celebrations of the older Mass because, they claimed, you could not say Mass if you didn’t have the proper vestments. That is far far too rigid an approach.”

    Does this also apply to not having six candles for a High Mass? We’ve been celebrating a High Mass, but we don’t have six candle stands, only four. Although we just ordered another set of candles, a man approached me before Mass complaining that we only had four candles…

  4. Patrick says:

    “No maniple, no Mass” was once the battle-cry! It is to be noted, however, that in the uber-trad monastery of Fontgombault, no maniples appear at the low Masses celebrated abundantly at side-altars after Lauds.

  5. Fr. A says:

    “They are also instituting a maniple test, which consists of a written part and a practical demonstration that the priest is idoneus as to the tying of maniples.”

    LOL! :-) Your post made my evening.

  6. dominic1962 says:

    Actually (correct me if I’m wrong Fr’s), it was a legitimate to use four candles for a High Mass. Six is the norm in all of the TLM’s I’ve ever seen, but it would be OK to use four.

    Also, in my somewhat limited experience, maniples are not hard to find. If you are around old country churches, they are usually hiding out in the old vestment drawers. They might not match anything anymore, but you can at least have a maniple of some sort until you get a proper set. Check around, lots of the older vestments are still out there.

  7. Jean says:

    “Does this also apply to not having six candles for a High Mass?”

    Of course. Let us not forget that the rubrics must always be followed, but nobody is required to do the impossible.

    I’m almost sure (though I could be wrong) that when priests, like St Maximillian Kolbe, offered Mass in the concentration camps they were not only missing a maniple and six candles, but everything else except bread, wine, the power to concecrate and a good and holy intention.

    Bishops, on the other hand, who administer the ‘maniple test’ are not true pastors but hirelings who twist the laws of the church for the worst of intentions. They use the law to kill rather than give life.

  8. Ann says:

    Our priest has been offering the EFM once monthly since he was liberated to do so by Summorum Pontificum. He wears his regular vestments (correct color of course), and he is a quite orthodox and traditional priest, and said this was not improper. The parish does not yet have “fiddlebacks” and discovered they were expensive to get. This was not going to prevent the priest from offering the long-awaited Tridentine rite. However, the parish council has been working on this, budgeting for new vestments, and we will be ordering some soon. Also, a thorough search of sacristy cabinets and drawers turned up several maniples, to everyone’s surprise.

  9. Chris says:

    While I often wonder why we have to have a discussion as to whether or not we may find a technicality in which to water down tradition, if there is absolutely no way to acquire a maniple for Mass, which I suppose is in an extreme case a possibility, I recently witnessed a priest use a stole folded over on his arm to take the place of a maniple when he forgot his before leaving his parish to celebrate Mass at another location.

    Therefore, unless the purpose is to start creating a hybrid Mass, which I pray isn’t the intent of the person asking the question, a homemade maniple seems the second best option.

    Father, if this example by the priest I saw is improper, feel free to correct me for the record.

  10. Supertradmom says:

    Many years ago when I was in the Clifton Diocese in Bristol, England, one of the priests took most of the Tridentine, fiddle-back vestments from the Cathedral of SS.Peter and Paul, down the road to the Anglican Church around the corner, where the ministers welcomed these with open arms. This decision was connected to the fact that Sarum-style vestments were to be worn by the priests in the Cathedral and there was, apparently, no need to keep maniples, etc. No lay persons, to my knowledge, were au fait of this action, until after the fact.

    On Gaudete Sunday of that year, the celebrant, who was the assistant pastor, could not find any rose-colored vestments or altar cloths, as these too had gone the way of the Anglicans. If I am not mistaken, this Anglican parish became rather evangelical and probably still has the vestments, including maniples in a drawer somewhere, if someone would like to inquire.

    This type of liturgical hooliganism was only topped by the actual burning of relics at the parish of St. Aloysius in Oxford by certain Jesuits, who obviously were not inspired by their brother in vows, Edmund Campion, who placed his Decem Rationes on the seats of another Church in the city, St. Mary’s, on the Day of Commencement. Thankfully, now at St. Aloysius, the Oratorians have restored the Tridentine Mass! I hope they could find the proper vestments, as those, too, could have gone into the bonfire.

  11. Jayna says:

    “how often do we see priests with their Roman, military, collars visible sticking out of their albs and chasubles during Mass, in violation of the rubrics. Street clothes are to be covered! The collar of your shirt, or vest, or cassock, is part of your street clothes, Fathers!”

    Daily. Well, I take that back. If they even bothered to wear their Roman collar that day then they don’t cover it up (I’m referring to all three priests we have in our parish). Of course, that whole wearing the collar thing only happens about once a week, if that.

  12. Johnny Domer says:

    The functionalism argument for not using this or that vestment always strikes me as utterly ridiculous, since there is NO vestment that is functional, period. The only reason the Church has priests wear vestments is because they have a symbolic value. There’s no reason you HAVE to wear a chasuble, or an alb, or a stole, or any clothing at all (I don’t want to give anybody ideas…) in order to celebrate a strictly VALID Mass. A priest who’s stuck in a prison camp without access to any vestments can definitely celebrate Mass as long as he has some bread and some wine; Cardinal Mindszenty talked about how, during one of the times he was inprisoned, he used his own hand as the altar, and that he put onto it a crumb of bread and a drop of wine for his Mass. He’s obviously a far different example from that of the concelebrating priest who, though there are closets that are chock full of suitable chasubles in the sacristy, doesn’t wear one.

    I remember hearing a talk from Fr. Fessio in which he compared the Mass to an Italian pasta dinner. If you want a nice spaghetti dinner, you would maybe lay out a nice tablecloth, have nice china, nice silverware, maybe some candles, etc. But do you need tablecloth for a pasta dinner? No, not really; the essential thing is only the pasta. Well, do you need nice china? Do you need silverware? Do you need a napkin? Heck, why not just ditch the table and eat off the floor? The essential element of eating pasta would still remain, wouldn’t it? Obviously to do this ruins much of what seems special about a nice pasta dinner. To remove “non essential” things from the Mass will similarly make the Mass seem a lot less special, a lot more commonplace.

  13. Tom says:

    Could one wear one of the chasubles w/ the stole sewn on top?
    I hope not

  14. If my memory serves me, 4 candles are sufficient for a Missa Cantata. Also, the cassock should be worn under the vestments, along with the alb in the Gregorian Rite.

  15. I meant to say amice.

  16. Widukind says:

    This is in response to a previous posting in which a parish was preparing to purchase a set of old style vestments. I am having difficulty in comprehending why some people “drool” over the use of the fiddleback or roman chasuable for the EF as superior to that of the gothic. As much as some people tell of the beauty, dignity, and fullness of the EF, of the restoration of culture and class, I do not see how this is expressed in using a style of vestment that reminds me of a t-shirt two times too small. I see then an inconsistancy in this admiration or drooling. The chasuable seems ridicuously small, while the paddle-like ends of the stole and maniple seem as large as the vestment itself. The same can be said about the episcopal vesture, of the mitre and gloves. The proportion is quite imbalanced. As well, the tinyness exposes most of the alb. To me this appearance is somewhat hideous in that the “undergarment” of the alb becomes what is most seen, rather than the foundation for the other vestments. So I posit: “would not the fuller chasuable be more expressive of the return to the “fuller” rite?” How can a minimalized chasuable, rather than the fuller chasuable, be an image of the wedding garment of the eternal Wedding Feast, clothing one in eternal glory? The fiddleback chasuable clothes little of anything and exposes much.
    I suppose some might say, that the use of the fiddleback / roman style vestment is historically appropriate for the EF. But then, why isolate a specific point in time, and freeze-dry it? I feel some people would desire to have a fixed point, a point say around 1962, and make it an eternal unchangable norm. I believe the EF is part and parcel of the living liturgical reality of the Church, and that a preservationist / isolationist attitude towards it really does the EF, and OF, a disservice. So, what merit is there in holding onto a style simply because it is deemed historical to a specific era, while at the same time it being an aborration? The Church can and does grow, and she is ever restoring and renewing herself. From what I understand, the fiddleback / roman style vestments is the end product of much snipping and cutting – a whittled down version of the full chasuable to its extreme. It seems to me, that the choice of a fiddleback chasuable over a gothic one is a choice for function rather than for symbol. With the thought that the EF returns mystery to the liturgy, how does something that loudly shouts out “function” become the vehicle for the mystery that is to be experienced in awe and wonder? In my estimation the gothic is more historical than the roman, because it is older; and that it is more symbolic or mysterious because it is fuller. A gothic chasuable for me is more aesthetically pleasing, the lines of its cut flow much better. And, the fullness of the garment brings to mind a sense of completeness and magnamity.
    This incongruous imaging / symbolizing, keeps striking me as inconsistent: how does the minimal become an expression for the maximal? For some reason, when I read about someone gushing or drooling about a fiddleback chasuable as the cats-meow, I get a sense of emptiness, a sadness. I do not know why.

  17. Tony says:

    I am fairly certain that the requirement for a Missa Cantata is four candles, not six. Six candles is required for a Solemn Mass (with deacon and subdeacon).

  18. Look back at the comments posted here, and then read the main entry.

  19. Fr Ray Blake says:

    “I fear that functionalism overtook a Catholic sense of things after the Council”

    If there is maniple there I tend to wear it, even for the Novus Ordo, where it is obviously optional. Most of the new sets of vestments I’ve bought lately tend to have one.

    Last Holy Thursday I was struck by how much it symbolised the “spirit of Vatican II”, it is the footwashers garment. The maniple is the antidote to triumphalism, it surely derives from the servant’s towel.
    Its secular parallel is still in evidence in the waiters cloth, still functionally worn on the left arm.

  20. Paul Cavendish says:

    \”I am fairly certain that the requirement for a Missa Cantata is four candles, not six. Six candles is required for a Solemn Mass (with deacon and subdeacon).\”

    The Caeremoniale gives precise instructions: six candlesticks for doubles; four candlesticks for days within Octaves and for Greater Ferial days, and; two candlesticks for simples feasts and common ferial days etc.

    There is a broadly corresponding rule in the Graduale for the number of cantors depending on the liturgical rank of the day.

  21. Father Z (or anyone else),

    A few questions…

    1. What is the symbolism of the Maniple?

    2. What are the traditional Gregorian Rite vestments for deacons?

    3. Are there any Gregorian Rite vesting prayers for deacons? (As you know, we have vesting prayers in the Byzantine rite.)

    Also, there is an interesting discussion going on regarding the restoration of Subdeacons you might be interested in following. It is at Taylor Marshall’s blog, Canterbury Tales:


    God bless!

    In ICXC,

    Father Deacon Daniel

  22. dcs says:

    What are the traditional Gregorian Rite vestments for deacons?

    Alb, amice, stole (worn over one shoulder instead of both), dalmatic, maniple, and biretta. I don’t recall whether they wear the cincture.

  23. Maureen says:

    Widukind, it’s perfectly okay to have a taste for Gothic garments, or not to like fiddlebacks. But don’t let it trouble you either way, unless it’s your job to pick out vestments or something like that. Of course, it’s also perfectly okay to remind people that fiddlebacks are not the be-all and end-all. :) In fact, I think that’s a useful thing to do, and prevents narrowing of vision. (I tend to remind women that hats are just as good as veils, from similar motives.)

  24. AlexB says:

    We used to have a good, holy priest celebrating our EF Mass who refused to wear a maniple. I don’t recall his reason, but regardless, the topic was not open to discussion.

    He was the only priest around interested in the TLM, so if we wanted to have the Mass, he was our celebrant. Quite apart from the issue of whether you have the supplies or not, there is the separate issue of “pick your battles.” We wanted the Mass, thus we had to let the matter slide. Situations are rarely perfect.

  25. EJ says:

    Sorry if this is off-topic a bit but same principal. I’m trying to get an occasional TLM started at my parish, but one of the problems I anticipate is that the old crucifix was ripped out of its niche above the old high altar and done away with in the ’70s. The niche was filled in for ugly felt banners to hang over this spot. A gigantic new crucifix is now suspended from the vaulted ceiling of the sanctuary over the ugly wooden portable altar. We would love to remove the portable altar for a TLM and use the old high altar – but there would be no crucifix on the altar. Should this prevent us from being able to celebrate the TLM?

  26. The Pledger says:

    Would “Tres abhinc annos” apply to the Extraordinary Form? It states that “The maniple is no longer required”.

  27. Cerimoniere says:

    EJ: that’s very unfortunate. You need to have a crucifix at least somehow connected with the altar being used for Mass. The hanging one doesn’t sound to me as though it quite works. However, I’m sure you could work something out. For example, if ugly felt banners can hang over the high altar, maybe a light wooden crucifix could hang there instead during your Mass?

    The Pledger: Definitely not. The use of the Roman Rite recognized by “Summorum Pontificum” is that of 1962 itself, not as amended by subsequent liturgical law.

  28. dominic1962 says:

    I personally like fiddlebacks, but also like nice Gothic chausibles as well. I think much of the popular TLM-goer’s predilection towards the fiddleback is the common perception that this is THE traditional chausible that people fondly remember and it does have a certain charm. When the “restoration” of the Gothic chausible under the form of gawdawful horseblankets happened, and the merits of the Gothic lost credit. I think people would be more favorable towards Gothic chausibles if they seen more really nice ones that could hold a candle to the damasks and decoration of the fiddlebacks they commonly see at TLMs.

    Some of it is being reactionary and defensive (not in a necessarily bad way though) because when people talk about “restoring” things and drastically doing away with what we’ve grown to know, trad minded folks get understandably wary. This happened amongst us in the sem when one of our formators made a pitch for the older style surplice and a dig at lace. I’m not against plain surplices that are a bit longer and I think those pleated and laced up things that barely cover a fascia are ugly but to take a dig at what would reasonably be considered a legitimate via media just gets folks angry.

    Until I read more on the history of the Gothic vestments and after only seeing those cheap and banal polyester monstrosities, I had a huge preference for the fiddleback-simply because it was a choice between ugly and beautiful.

    All that said, I think we need to remember Pius XII’s good advice in Mediator Dei about not being too quick to want to “restore” all these earlier forms of things just because they were the oldest. We can have both the Gothic and the fiddleback.

  29. dom guzman says:

    I am almost certain that there was an instruction wherein the maniple was rendered defunct, as well as the rubric requiring the ministers of the altar to enter the sanctuary with heads covered. [Not before 1962, there wasn’t. – Fr. Z] I am aware of a not too subtle protest by 2 FSSP members, who displayed their true conciliar colors by specifically not wearing the maniple. One who was a superior, alibied for the other stating on either Jogues or Greg that the priest was too clumsy to wear it.

  30. Gil Wright says:

    Being an (instituted) acolyte, I get to see most of the contents of the cupboards in the sacristry. Just after the permission to say the old mass (which as an adult convert, I had never seen or attended) there was a “spring cleaning” and lots of strange vestments (which I have never seen used and had no idea what they were for) vanished.

    Now the parish priest says that he cannot offer TLM because (a) they have no vestments and (b) none of the priests can speak Latin.

    Given that the priests belong to an order (MSC) a group contacted the nearby monastery (same order) and found three older retired priests who would *love* to say Latin mass once a month or so. Back to the PP who said no. Off to the bishop (cardinal actually) but he doesn’t have jurisdiction over the order. He advises the head of the order who just agrees with the parish priest above.

    So I took the family to Lewisham (http://www.fssp.net/index.html) to find out what the fuss was about. It was incomprehensible but incomparably beautiful. I want to know more…..

    As for the maniples – I wonder where they were stored….

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