QUAERITUR: Can “modern” vestments be used for the “Tridentine” Mass?

From a reader:

We are in the final stages of organizing a monthly Tridentine Mass. We have everything but the “traditional” vestments. Can the Tridentine Mass be celebrated by a Priest wearing “modern” vestments? If not, what is the most economical option for obtaining traditional vestments?

Congratulations!  I wish your “stable group” every success.  May your initiative thrive.  “Ut eatis et fructum afferatis”, and all that.

Yes, vestments that are modern in style can be used, provide that the prescribed vestments are included and, then, used.  For example, in the Extraordinary Form the maniple must be used.  It is an option in the Ordinary Form, but it is obligatory in the Extraordinary Form.  Of course if there isn’t a maniple, then Mass goes ahead anyway.  But then reasonable steps should be taken so that the set of vestments are complete.

Also, you are not obliged to use Roman style vestments for the Extraordinary Form.  Roman vestments seem to be the most appropriate for the Roman Rite.  But you can certainly use the fuller, draping, “Gothic” style vestments.  No problem.

Furthermore, I don’t see why the vestments could not incorporate some more modernistic designs, provided they weren’t too obviously secular or weird or jarring or distracting or ugly.  This would go for the music as well.  Just because Gregorian chant and polyphony are to be our first choices in the Roman Rite (thank you, Vatican II!) that doesn’t mean that we cannot include in our choir’s repetoire also music of a modern idiom.  I really like Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Masses, but I have also been celebrant for a Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form with the Mass by Igor Stravinsky.  We should have good and worthy new compositions for Mass too!

Holy Church has given two great gifts to all of humanity: saints and art.  In the lives of saints, people see the goodness, truth and beauty of God shining through our human words and actions.  In true art, we also should see goodness, truth and beauty.  When we are dealing with sacred art, appropriate for our liturgy worship, it is absolutely necessary that we see or hear the goodness, truth and beauty of God.  And we have to have true sacred art in every age and culture, just as we hope we will have saints.

I digress.

Yes, you can use all sorts of styles of vestments for the Extraordinary Form.

I will let readers chime in about where to get vestments.

(Perhaps you can also start a group who can make nice vestments!)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    A wonderful way to obtain traditional vestments and help support a traditional religious order is through the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles:

    Handcrafted vestments. It’s certainly worth having a look at.

  2. jlduskey says:

    I have two places to suggest:
    1. The House of Hansen 4223 W. Irving Park Road Chicago, Illinois 60641
    (773) 736-5858 | (800) 522-1457 Email: sales@thehouseofhansen.com
    2. GASPARD, Inc. 800-784-6868 toll-free phone 800-784-7567 toll-free fax
    200 N. Janacek Road Brookfield, WI 53045

  3. jlduskey says:

    There are usually hundreds of options available on ebay. Search “Chasuble” or “Vestment”

  4. Scarltherr says:

    I’m glad to hear you suggest making vestments. I was speaking to my nephew on Sunday about a desire to help with vestments. He has so many Aunts, it’s really an Aunt-farm. We want to make him the complete set, all liturgical colors. He even wants black for funerals. Are there patterns available? Where do we look. We have 2 years until ordination.

  5. Athanasius says:

    One misunderstanding I have encountered in a lot of Trads is the belief that the Fiddleback is the “Traditional vestment” of the Roman Rite and Gothic chasubles are a novelty. It is actually the inverse, the conical and gothic vestments are in fact of a much older pedigree in the Roman Rite, while the fiddleback was designed by St. Philip Neri and as such is a “novelty” broadly speaking, although a 500 year old one. Yet I think priests should draw the line with post-conciliar vestments which are formless, let alone those which are of the “psychedelic” variety.

  6. Centristian says:

    Slabbinck (of Belgium) makes beautiful vestments in various price ranges (they also make some hideous vestments, but that’s true of just about all vestment makers). Like most vestment makers, these days, they now offer Roman cut vestments. Slabbinck, in fact, offers Roman cut vestments that are typically elaborate and old-fashioned looking, as well as Roman cut vestments that are much less elaborate and, despite their cut, quite contemporary-looking. But they also offer gothic cut vestments that are traditional-looking and very handsome. I would recommend perusing their website. Slabbinck vestments are renowned for their quality.

    As far as American domestic vestment makers, try CM Almy, Chagall, Theological Threads, MDS, Veritas Polska, Meyer-Vogelpohl, Beau Veste, and Gaspard.

    Hayes & Finch and Wippell’s in England also offer some very nice vestments.

    While contemporary vestments may certainly be employed for the celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary Form, it should also be remembered that traditional, even Roman cut vestments may be used for the celebration of Mass in the Ordinary Form (and frequently ought to be, if you ask me).

  7. pitkiwi says:

    I highly recommend eBay user avemariamaterdei58. She has very very affordable low mass sets.

  8. dominic1955 says:

    I think much of what people consider “traditional” in vestments comes from a living memory of what happened back before Vatican II. In some areas, people consider the Gothic (usually the smaller/shorter cut) style “traditional” because that’s what they remember from circa 1958 or saw in pictures from a similar time. Some folks think nothing but the Roman/fiddleback type vestments are traditional for the same reason. The full on conicals were featured in Liturgical publications and used by some monasteries, but I don’t think they ever caught on before the immediate post-VII era. After VII we had all sorts of garbage passed off as vestments with no respect to any sort of traditional cut or fabric or design. In the American Trad scene, Gothic is often seen as ugly NO vestments and so the cut (even if its actually made right) is seen as non-traditional.

    I’m partial to the Roman style (and lace and all the other Italianate things to boot) but it seems like a big waste of time to argue things as non-traditional that in reality are not.

    As to a place to go, check out http://www.traditionecclesiasticaltailoring.com/ They are associated with the Benedictines of Mary.

  9. jeffc says:

    What is the history of the “Roman chasuble?” Isn’t the “Gothic” style an older style?

    I personally prefer the look of the Gothic style chasubles like the one Fr. Z is wearing in his profile picture to the Roman style, but that is just my own taste.

  10. MyBrokenFiat says:

    No – I refuse to believe that rainbow chausable is real. No. No way. At least not in a Catholic church. Please no…

  11. Bea says:


    Here’s some amateurish advise, but it works:

    If your nephew can get hold of a discarded used set (it can be borrowed and then returned), then you could make a pattern of it with newspapers for all 5 pieces in the set
    veil (for the chalice)
    maniple (will look like a mini stole)

    They are really not that hard to make.
    At upholstery stores you can find some lovely embroidered patterns with gold accents in the designs that fit the style for chasubles. You can get a swatch in different colors to see if your nephew approves of the design.This upholstery material serves as a stiffening, itself, so that you do not need a stiffening between the lining and the outer material.
    For the burse, you could use (from craft stores) an easel type board-like base for the stiff burse. They come in different thicknesses. These were the hardest to make but it is possible.

    You will find great joy is seeing your nephew wearing the chasuble crafted by your loving hands.
    Professional styles are just that…professional …..but those crafted by your hands are to be cherished forever.

    Congratulations on you and your nephew God Bless you all

  12. CarpeNoctem says:

    A hearty “second” for the House of Hansen in Chicago. They have done almost all of my vestments with appropriate accessories (maniples, etc) long before it was the “in” thing to do. Roman, gothic vestments cut to order; chalice veils, burses; the best cassocks and birettas stateside. Prices are very reasonable compared to catalog stuff. Superior quality to catalog stuff also. They are very, very busy this time of year with first Mass orders, but they otherwise come through in a timely manner for eveything being tailored to order. Gerry and the family are good, faithful Catholics who are definitely focused on doing it right for the customer and for the Church.

  13. samgr says:

    I’d never imagined untraditional gothic style vestments until I opened the hand missal I received for my First Communion. The priest in all the photos was celebrating Mass wearing this strange, new, flowing chasuble. Of course, what else would you expect in 1945?

  14. Mike Morrow says:

    Of course Gothic-style vestments were in use pre-Vatican II. Similar to samgr above, my old St. Andrews school hand missal (with English propers, unfortunately) from the late 1950s has a front color plate showing a Mass in a foreign cathedral with the priest in Gothic vestments, plus the two altar servers are in those white monk-like robes so popular with novus ordo altar attendants today. But in the USA, that end-plate was the only place I ever saw Gothic-style vestments pre-Vatican II. Those novus ordo polyester rain ponchos came later!

    The real objection to Gothic style today results from its intimate association with the novus ordo, much as black uniforms and peaked caps are associated with the German SS. That is reason enough to reject them until the novus ordo has been eradicated long enough for the memory of the horror to have vanished.

  15. “Roman vestments seem to be the most appropriate for the Roman Rite.”

    If by this you mean vesture of the Baroque era (commonly referred to as “fiddleback” vestments), they are certainly the most popular in this period of revival (for want of a better term), but I don’t know what would make them the “most appropriate” for the Traditional Mass (in which case I sure wish someone would say something authoritative). Virtually every hand missal from the early- and mid-20th century, when describing the priest’s vestments, underscores a trend away from that style, towards a revival of the Gothic. This wasn’t a post-conciliar or “novus ordo” trend by a long shot.

    I suppose it depends on a priest’s personal taste more than anything else. Or whether he takes his personal set on the road (in which case the Baroque trumps all for ease of packing). In any case, growing up in Ohio when “the old Mass” was just “the Mass,” I never once personally saw a priest wearing a “fiddleback” chasuble. Only in pictures.

    Personally, I tend towards the late Medieval or Gothic. But hey, that’s just me.

  16. catholicmidwest says:

    That rainbow-infested vestment is ……picturesque. To say the least. I’m a woman and I wouldn’t be caught dead in that fabric. At the beach. :p It’s really awful. It’s not the “feathers” or whatever they are that’s the problem. It’s the “faces.” And the rainbow advertizement or whatever it is.

  17. momoften says:

    fyi…the Benedictions of Mary do have a waiting list, so please do not think that you can order
    something and have it within a few weeks. The waiting list can be 6 months for them to even
    start something–but the quality is impeccable.
    Secondly, do not think for a minute that you can shop for bargains. You pay for what you get.
    I tend to think realistically use the best quality fabrics and trims and you will not disappoint if
    you do indeed sew a set. I have repaired old vestments, and the quality is why they have held up, not to mention they are just plain beautiful. Sometimes buying old vestments and relining them is a cheap option, but honestly in time you will have to invest in new ones. They are beautiful, but the fabrics sometimes do not hold up over a few years if they have not been stored properly, and many have not been stored properly. If I were on a limited budget and had a seamstress, I would definitely buy used and look local…you might be surprised who has what stashed away. We had people donate some awesome antiques from Ebay. (or I should say rescue?)
    Finally, if you are really interested in sewing vestments RESEARCH it–there are methods and materials for burses, and other things. Lalame in New York is probably your source for liturgical
    fabrics/notions/trims. From what I have been told in talking to vestment makers -most get into
    the vestment making after they have been repairing. It makes sense to me as you learn by taking
    apart and repairing and putting back together, you really see how everything was put together.

  18. momoften says:

    also, any decent vestment maker will have a waiting list, it isn’t just the Benedictions.

  19. chiners says:

    While wanting to support the idea that the ‘Gothic’ shape is actually of greater antiquity to the various fiddleback forms I would want to recommend Catholic Liturgicals . I have had pleasing vestments of both styles from this remarkably inexpensive source.

  20. oldcanon2257 says:

    As long as Father does not wear a chasuble similar to this:


    BTW, I don’t know who the bishops are in the picture, but the red hat is Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, O.P. I wonder what Pope Saint Pius V (also a Dominican, also a bishop, also an inquisitor) would say if he saw a priest wearing a chasuble like that.

  21. SPWang says:

    http://stores.ebay.com/Catholic-Church-Products good quality and cheep also. Congrats on starting your monthly Mass. We started with once a month too!

  22. Tom in NY says:

    Temporibus antiquis I learned my Latin Mass prayers as an altar boy at a parish which had then-new “gothic” vestments (including black) as well as the fiddlebacks from a parish history. Servers wore cassock from the church closet and surplices maintained at home.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  23. “also, any decent vestment maker will have a waiting list, it isn’t just the Benedictions.”

    Sad but true. Any reputable maker of traditional vestments can take a long as a year to make one set for a priest. This has led to a severe shortage of necessary material; they simply cannot keep enough bolts of cloth on the shelves to meet the demand. And now, the famous Belgian maker Slabbinck has introduced a line of Baroque vestments. That’s when you know it’s gone mainstream.

  24. olh says:

    My wife is a budding vestment maker of the traditional stripe. We have a good friend who was just ordained a deacon for the Fraternity of St. Peter. She finished a set of stoles for him the day before yesterday and he told me that some of his compadres think he’s the best dressed deacon in the place (not to brag on my wife too much or anything). Take a look at homegrownkiddos.blogspot.com if you’re interested. If you buy from her, you’re helping to support not only reverence in the liturgy but also a growing Catholic family (#5 due in August).

  25. Son of Trypho says:

    You should all thank Fr Z for posing for that photo above with that wonderful, colourful and full of the Spirit (of Vatican 2) piece above! :)

  26. Son of Trypho says:

    And the St Bede Studio in Australia apparently make some nice vestments if anyone is interested. (I have no relationship with that organisation btw).

  27. lh says:

    I make vestment sets.

  28. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Any details known as to the ‘authorial’ intentions of the designer of the chasuble in the second photo? My guess would be the Cherubim of the Ark with the Glory of the Presence replaced by the empty Cross – a not uninteresting idea (if correct), which is not to say the execution is equal to it…
    (Might there be a further ‘rainbow-napping’ implication, or, again, a playful counter-‘rainbow-napping’ implication?)

    If it is part od a set including a planeta plicata, what does that look like?

  29. wolfeken says:

    If a modern set is missing a maniple, know that a stole from another set can be folded/adapted to serve as a maniple.

    Not the best look, of course, but better than not using a maniple.

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