QUAERITUR: Stole over chasuble, or “What part of ‘extirpetur’ does Your Excellency not understand?”

A reader asked:

Can/Should the stole be worn outside the chasuble by the celebrant
during Mass?


This was obviously asked because some priest out there is wearing his stole over the chasuble.  And I’ll bet all the money in my pocket it is a groovy, meaningful stole, made by poor children from a third world country, perhaps with finger-painted stick-figure self-portraits conveying connotation-augment-hyphenated sentiments to an over-awed pew-sitting congregation.  And the guitars were strumming… and the people were holding hands… most of them in disgust… and the song-leader was waving that arm… and the presider was on display with a rictus of faux-joy…

Sorry… I’m ranting.

It is hard to believe this is still going on.   In any event, Redemptionis Sacramentum restates what the GIRM says.

[123.] “The vestment proper to the Priest celebrant at Mass, and in other sacred actions directly connected with Mass unless otherwise indicated, is the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole.”[GIRM 337] Likewise the Priest, in putting on the chasuble according to the rubrics, is not to omit the stole. All Ordinaries should be vigilant in order that all usage to the contrary be eradicated.

Not just corrected… “eradicated”!

Vigilent omnes Ordinarii, ut omnis usus contrarius extirpetur.

Kinda catchy, no?  Extirpetur… extirpetur… extirpetur...

“But Father! But Father!”, you might be tempted to retort.  “This is small stuff.  At least he has the stole!”

When obedience is so easy in these small things, why not just be obedient?  Why is this hard?  Why does it have to be about the priest and what he wants to impose on the Mass?

And, finally, the maniple goes on the left arm.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Trisagion says:

    “And, finally, the maniple goes on the left arm.”


  2. Dr. Sebastianna says:

    … I hate to say this, but… At least this priest WEARS a chasuble while celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass… I saw two priest this week wear an alb, cincture, and stole (no chasubles) while “presiding” (how one of them describes his role) at Mass…

  3. TNCath says:

    Fr. Z writes, “And I’ll bet all the money in my pocket it is a groovy, meaningful stole, made by poor children from a third world country, perhaps with finger-painted stick-figure self-portraits conveying connotation-augment-hyphenated sentiments to an over-awed pew-sitting congregation.”

    Our bishop regularly wears vestments with his stole over the chasuble. And they aren’t homemade ones either. His are quite pricey vestments from a high dollar outfit named Stadelmaier. If the chief liturgist and shepherd of the diocese allows and even wears illicit vesture, what can one do? If you dare mention it to anyone, you are labeled overly scrupulous or told, “What’s the difference?” or “Lighten up” or “You are worried about non-essentials.”

  4. Geoffrey says:

    I know one priest who does this just about all the time. It isn’t a special stole. You can tell it “goes with the set”. I really think bishops should hold “refresher workshops” regarding liturgical rubrics for the priests, deacons, acolytes, etc., in their dioceses. Let’s all get on the same page!

  5. holzi says:

    In my parish-church (I’m a sacristan) we have a Photo of the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger celebrating a wedding mass in my church with the stole worn over the chasuble. That was about fifteen years ago. If You don’t believe me, I can shoot a photo of that with my cellphone. Was that an abuse? [Of course it was. But you already knew the answer before you asked. And Germans seem to be into this one.]

  6. Clinton says:

    In both the older and newer rites of ordination, the bishop presents the new priest with a chasuble while telling him that it is a priestly vestment, signifying charity.

    Years ago, I remember hearing from a priest exasperated by this abuse whereby stoles (and
    pectoral crosses) are worn over a chasuble. Those things, he said, are symbols of office, but
    charity should cover all things.

    Made sense to me.

  7. Dr. Sebastianna, things have gotten pretty bad when we have to congratulate anybody for doing something they’re required to do anyway.

    An aside: please pray for me and other devotees of Mass in the Extraordinary Form: we are losing the good and faithful priest who celebrates the EF Mass we attend. It is the only one within 300 miles. Now begins the Sisyphean struggle to have it offered somewhere else.

    Back to the subject in hand: And I think our dear Father who is being transferred would rather be caught dead than wear the stole outside the chasuble.

  8. medievalist says:


    Yes, Daleks would be useful against all manner of liturgical abuses.

  9. frdgss says:

    there may be a bit more to this than immediately appears.
    It is the custom in some European countries (Poland, Germany etc) for two stoles to be worn during the Nuptial Mass. The additional (overlay) stole is assumed for the Rite of Marriage only and then removed. Any priest will know that wrapping the stole under the chasuble around the joined hands of the happy couple is almost impossible to do with any decorum (unless it’s very long!). Hence the fix. Holzi, this may explain the photo of Card Ratzinger and the over-stole. Not an abuse at all.

  10. frdgss: Interesting. That does, however, provoke a question: Where in the rubrics of the Roman Rite are priests told to put on a second stole… two at a time?

  11. Federico says:

    Dr. Sebastianna wrote: “I saw two priest this week wear an alb, cincture, and stole (no chasubles)”

    Wow, out and about in liturgical underwear. I wonder if they were embarrassed.

  12. Kate Asjes says:

    “…some priest out there is wearing his stole over the chasuble.”

    Some priest out there? Some priest out there! Really? In the liturgical wasteland that is the Diocese of Dubuque, you would be hard pressed to find a single priest who does NOT usually wear his stole over his chasuble. And during the week many prefer the alb/stole combo.

    I read somewhere that the stole symbolizes the priesthood, and the chasuble symbolizes Christ–Christ covers all. Brings new meaning to the stole-on-top and no-chasuble style, no?

  13. Federico: I will never again be able to see our local pastor preside at daily Mass sans chasuble in the same way. LITURGICAL UNDERWEAR. Classic.

  14. Tom Ryan says:

    It’s a hot topic.

    http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=205031 Where does one get a mitre like that?

    A priest friend once told me that “it came that way.” If it came in a box, would you wear the box? I believe it was the Geneva Calvinists who started the practice with a bit more knowledge of the symbolism than most clerics.

    How should the pectoral cross be worn in public? Most Americans stick it in their pocket but the Europeans generally let it hang lower and in front.

  15. fwbear says:

    You’re going to have to help me with this one. I know, at least I think I do, that the maniple is uncluded in the vestments for the EF Mass. I remember, as a boy, helping to vest the priest for pre-1962 Masses and handing the maniple to him. Yes, I’m older than dirt. Should the maniple me included in the Novus Ordo or did it get dropped along the way?

  16. Andrew Mason says:

    We had a priest at my parish a while ago who often wore the stole over the chasuble, he was from Brazil and I assumed that it might be some sort of custom down there because I had never seen a priest do it before. I don’t remember anything special about the stole, although his “ordinary time” vestments were of a rather unpleasant shade of green (something like a darker version of pea green) that I always disliked.

  17. Jayna says:

    “I saw two priest this week wear an alb, cincture, and stole (no chasubles)”

    My priest wears chasubles only on Sundays. Weekday Masses are celebrated with an alb and stole (no cincture or chasuble). I really don’t know why he does that because he has some nice sets of vestments – including three copes – and he likes to use them when he can.

    I am almost positive I’ve seen our archbishop wear his stole over his chasuble. And his pectoral cross as well, come to think of it. A pity, given his extensive training in liturgy.

  18. Will D. says:

    Should the maniple [be] included in the Novus Ordo or did it get dropped along the way?

    My understanding is that it’s optional in the Ordinary Form. The rubrics are silent on the subject, as far as I recall.

  19. Gaz says:

    Would a Bishop wearing his pectoral cross over his chasuble be committing a liturgical abuse?

  20. priest up north says:

    In correcting this abuse, the vestment dealers need to be the first on the corrective list – stop designing the vestments this way! It’s no wonder that TNCath’s bishop still does this, seeing companies like Stadelmeier are still making these. Perhaps if the dealers stopped making and selling these, a good number of priests who prefer their “liturgical underwear” outside would change their minds.

    This scenario (chasuble over stole) makes me think of another possible spot for Miller Lite in their “man up” series of TV ads…

  21. Thomas S says:

    Maybe it should be legislated that all stoles must have embroidered on them in big letters: “IF YOU CAN READ THIS (down right hand side), YOU’RE IMPROPERLY VESTED (down left hand side).”

    Then priests will have to cover up with the chasuble.

  22. TNCath says:

    Priest up north wrote, “In correcting this abuse, the vestment dealers need to be the first on the corrective list – stop designing the vestments this way!”

    Unfortunately, the vestment dealers are only catering to the demands of the clergy who buy them. They are simply going where the money is and don’t really care what the regulations are. I can remember twenty-five years ago it was very difficult to buy Roman style chasubles (fiddlebacks) from vestment dealers in the U.S. because few were using them. With the wider use of the Extraordinary Form, however we are now seeing this vesture available and actively advertised by a number of vestment makers. At the same time, however, blue vestments, God-awful vestment styles, and vestment sets with stoles over the chasubles are still being advertised by vestment dealers despite their prohibition.

    In short, if priests and bishops weren’t buying them, they wouldn’t be making them.

  23. cothrige says:

    I cannot recall having ever, in this area at least, seen a stole UNDER a chasuble. Never. It is an absolute constant and I would assume that it is taken as a rule that they are to be on top.

  24. Mom2301 says:

    Dr. Sebastiana and Jayna are not the only ones seeing priests without their chasuble celebrating mass. Apparently, a chasuble is only “weekend wear” and our parish priest never wears it for weekday mass.
    Fr. Z says: “And I’ll bet all the money in my pocket it is a groovy, meaningful stole, made by poor children from a third world country, perhaps with finger-painted stick-figure self-portraits”
    –Fr. Z hit the nail on the head because the stole worn by our non-chusable wearing priest looks to be a hand woven, brightly colored sort of mexican blankent kind of thing and he has another that has…yes…little children’s fingerpainted handprints. Very distracting.

  25. mrsmontoya says:

    I am happy to post good news from our parish: Our new pastor (new as of July 2010) not only wears the chasuble OVER the stole, he also wears the amice – both are a change from our previous pastor. Also, he purchased new vestments of traditional Gothic style for himself and our deacon for Christmas and for Gaudette Sunday. Praise the Lord!

    Change is possible, keep praying!

  26. Supertradmum says:

    Faather Z,

    LOVE the Dalek, a family favorite for years was to “float” around the house and to say, “Seek, locate, exterminate”. Sadly, all the above abuses are seen here at the NO. As to the trendy, kiddie stoles with hand-painted hands, like finger-paint–that seems to still be a favorite.

    How about compulsory refresher courses for all priests on the matter of Liturgical dress? It would be appreciated by the laity who care here.

    The worst ones are the Holy Spirit doves, which resemble splodges of bling on red, and are hardly recognizable as a bird. Some look like dead birds…..and worn outside the chasuble.

    A mum comment–it could be male laziness or lack of awareness of the meanings of each piece of garb, but of course, such carelessness has no place in the Liturgy. Note that, my dear son, pursuing the priesthood, was known to go to Math Class at TAC with his sweater vest inside out. He knew his math, however, despite the attire. I always thought that the less than perfectionist young men should be Benedictines monks, who seem to be the least perfect in Liturgical attire, as compared with the FSSP or the Institute priests, for example. God bless them all.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    sorry, no disrespect, Father Z, not the extra “a”, sorry…

  28. Mike says:

    Well said Father and thank you so much for saying it.
    I like the bit about the maniple. Would that it would return to common use outside of the Extraordinary Form.

  29. Gaz, yes the practice of wearing the Pectoral Outside the chasuble is a regrettably common abuse.

    The pastor of the parish where I served my deacon assignment in the seminary forcefully mandated that all visiting priests follow his practice of ‘inside-out’. And about 15 years ago, at a West Coast ordination of a friend, I was instructed by their diocesan liturgist that I had to ‘inside-out’ as it was the diocesan custom and there had to be unity. (My friend slipped me an extra stole that I wore underneath.) The bad news is that this abuse is terribly common and often mandated.

    The good news is that this last year while concelebrating at a different diocese on the west coast (not known for its good liturgical practices) we were told that stoles had to be worn under the chasuble as “that is what Rome wants.” I think that tide may be turning on this one.

    (BTW, a young lady that I know from a home-schooling family refers to priests who ‘inside-out’ as Captain Underwear.)

  30. benedetta says:

    Commonly encountered. Does anyone know, by any chance is this something that Protestant pastors or Episcopalians do? I am just curious…

  31. Federico says:

    Supertradmum wrote: “A mum comment–it could be male laziness or lack of awareness of the meanings of each piece of garb, but of course, such carelessness has no place in the Liturgy.”

    That’s an interesting comment.

    Am I the only one to actually think it may be a failure of fatherhood and linked to the increasing feminization of men, leading to mothers bearing the full burden of formation of sons? Never mind the liturgy, how many men today know how to dress?

    I know my father spent time with me teaching what proper dress is on various occasions; there are rules to how men dress, regardless of whether they are priests celebrating the liturgy or lay men attending a ceremony. How often do we see early afternoon weddings with the wedding party wearing a tuxedo? And never mind what passes for a tuxedo nowadays.

    When I raise this issue, I’m told that I’m just a stuffy old curmudgeon, and it doesn’t really matter.

    I disagree. I think it does.

    There are standards and customs that make up the whole of our western civilization (if I’m ever invited to a wedding in Asia, I’ll ask for advice to make sure I conform to their customs). Once we stop teaching our sons that these standards and customs — rules of good behavior and grooming if you will — no longer matter, then they will carry that message to the seminary when they become priests.

    No, really, am I alone on this?

    And don’t get me started on general etiquette and titles of address.


  32. Never mind the liturgy, how many men today know how to dress?

    Almost none, sad to say. I think this is where “liturgical underwear” (love that phrase) originates. If a man doesn’t know how to dress when he’s a lay person– if he’s of the jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts school run by the aging hippies– why will he suddenly start dressing right when he’s a priest? Priestly formation starts young, very young. A man has to be good at being a lay person before he can become a good priest.

    Maybe some day we can reclaim western civilization from the yahoos, hopefully before it falls altogether.

  33. zippityzach says:

    Thank you for explaining this! While our Priest doesn’t fit the profile of your rant, for some reason he seems hell bent (no pun intended) to show off his stole most weekends (which matches his chasuble, but I think he thinks it looks good like that). I much prefer my brothers explanation of this gross departure of norm: “The stole is a sign of the Priest’s authority, and the chasuble a sign of Jesus’ authority, so when he wears the stole on top of the chasibule, who does he believe has the greater authority!?”

    I will be editing the rant out of your post and printing it out so as to leave it in plain view for our Priest and Deacons to see in the near future. If things don’t change after that, be sure I’ll be writing to our Bishop!

    Thanks again for the clarification!

  34. spock says:

    A most glorious rant Father Z ! The Klingons would be impressed! Q’apla to the House of Z !
    ( If we’re referencing the Daleks anyway, then the Klingons aren’t too much of a stretch :) )

    But seriously folks, how to handle this ? There are all kinds of abuses. Not sure we want lay people acting as policemen. Fact is most people don’t know very much. ( I could do better as well) In my area there are Franciscans who wear blue as a liturgical color. They have the dispensation of the Ordinary to do this. If I didn’t know that, I might go off and get people in hot water for no reason. The best solution I have is the following. When I was in college, and there was a prof. who had a lot of complaints against him for poor teaching, the department would send undercover grad students as spies to find out how well he was really teaching. I don’t particularly like applying that concept in this circumstance ( ie. having religious sit in on anothers’ liturgical celebrations ) but at least in that case you have someone who is trained and knows what they’re talking about ( or at least should know). Not for a sterotypical Spanish Inquistion but for a Fraternal Correction.

  35. mpolo says:

    I only have this problem when I celebrate in other parishes, and then it becomes a kind of political problem. I can hardly go in and say that the parish priest there has it all wrong, burn the overstole — I’m not the bishop, and such a comment should be made in private to the priest and not to the lay people there preparing the Mass as they were taught to do by the parish priest.

    Once or twice, I’ve been weak and just used what they provided. Usually I just put the “overstole” under the chasuble and deal with the fact that it won’t lie correctly and the chasuble is just a one-color drape. A couple of times, I have slipped a second stole under the chasuble and pretended that the “overstole” was just the decoration of the chasuble. The last time this happened, though, I dared to talk to the sacristan about the symbolism of the vestments, and that I would “feel more comfortable” if the symbol for charity was covering the symbol of authority. Then the sacristan was practically insisting that of course, I should wear the stole under the chasuble.

  36. Supertradmum says:

    In the good old days, when I was in high school and in college, I was president of the Sacristy Club. We learned the meaning of all the vestments, as well as how to lay out those vestments in honor and respect. How the vestments were laid out was determined by how they were put on. Later, some priests would come in and state that they did not want sacristans to lay out the vestments, as these men were picking and cho0sing what to wear and when. By the early 80s, there were no Sacristy Clubs in either the Catholic high school or the Catholic college were I attended. I am afraid this problem of the outside stole dates back at least 30 years now.

  37. Supertradmum says:

    goodness, where I attended not were
    …And, Federico,

    may I add that in most families with which I am familiar, including my own, in which all of my livingsiblings are male. the mothers have taught the boys how to dress. And, this may be shocking, also in my world, the women have done all the shopping for the men, including the fathers. My dad, who is 87, has had his entire wardrobe purchased and picked-out by my mom. He has veto power. He may buy a hat, now and then, or gloves. I had assumed, until I was in grad school, that most moms bought all the clothes and did the sartorial training. I wonder if this is an ethnic thing.

    Most of my friends in the EF community have many sons, and the moms do all the shopping and teaching. I had just assumed that was the way it was. “Real men don’t shop” seems to be the Germanic or Luxembourg way. When Gen X guys started going to the malls, I actually was surprised. Men of my mother’s and my generation never shopped and my brothers only went to places like Farm and Fleet, or Cabelas. Any place else was too “poncy”. There used to be men only shops, like The Gentry, in which women did not go except at Christmas. Those shops disappeared a long time ago, but were for men and only had men’s clothing. My dad would go there, and at The Hub, another such men’s shop. The dads set the tone by dressing well, but even now, only one of my brothers likes shopping for clothes. By the way, I do not like shopping at all and never have.

  38. Federico says:

    Supertradmum, I’m not sure if it’s an ethnic matter or not. I’m Italian; half Calabrian and half Sicilian, to be precise. Perhaps Fr. Z can weigh in as an American of German extraction who lived in Italy.

    I will tell you that it has nothing to do with enjoying shopping. I hate shopping.

    But, when my sons needed to learn to tie a tie, I am the one who taught them (as my father taught me) to choose the knot depending on the tie material’s thickness and the tie length, how to tie a bow tie, how to match type of event (and time of day) with dress code with clothing items, how a suit is supposed to fit (hint: most suits today are too baggy and the pants are too long — blame some of that on Giorgio Armani), what colors are acceptable in what circumstances, how to match a tie to the suit, and more… to help a lady sit, the order in which a building should be entered, when it’s OK to shake a lady’s hand versus kissing her hand (but not actually “kissing!”), etc.

    These are foundational tenets of male custom and behavior, it seems unfair to burden mothers with forming sons on things that, to me, are fundamentally masculine (such as the proper protocol for behaving around ladies).

    Then again, women don’t seem immune to the growth in bad taste in our society. Never mind the lack of modesty seen all around, but there is a growing inability to dress properly for the right occasion (see how infrequently women are dressing properly when they have audiences with the Holy Father, for instance, beginning with Cherie Blair who should have known better).

  39. Therese Z says:

    Our most PC priest (the oldest one of the set) not only wears a stole outside the chasuble, he wears one that doesn’t match, and yes, it’s an ugly image-covered folksy number with that “loving hands at home” look.

    It’s jarring, and flippant.

    He’s also the one who does verbal gymnastics trying not to say “man” or refer to God as “Him.”

    It’s a good reminder to me that the Mass is true no matter who says it or how they mess with it, since I don’t doubt his intention, just his style and prejudices.

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