New gear from Rome: Vimpae and BUCKLES!

New gear came from Rome, today. I had a pair of vimpae made with Bp. Hying’s coat-of-arms.

These are used during Masses with bishops by the ministers who hold the miter and the crosier.

Also, there are silver shoe buckles.

According to a Decree of the Sacred Congregation for Rites 3268, 3 and and to Nainfa’s Costume of Prelates of the Catholic Church, According to Roman Etiquette, that clerics had to/have to have shoes with polished steel buckles. Big shots could/can have gilded buckles.  The Caerimoniale Episcoporum now in force says: Calcei sint usuales, nigri coloris, sine fibulisPaul VI with Dress, Titles, and Coat of Arms of Cardinals, Bishops and Lesser Prelates abolished buckles in 1969.

1969.  Other than the Camaro, not a good year.*

In any event, because of Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae we ignore the abolitionist Paul VI’s move in 1969 when we use the Extraordinary.  That is to say, we use the manner of dress for Mass and for being in choir as it was in 1962.  That means that we do use the mantelletta, the sash with tassels, the shoe buckles, the red poms on the biretta for prelates of honor, the mantellone for lesser prelates.

This is not because we want to make Mass into a kind of liturgical Colonial Williamsburg, but rather as a counter to the rank individualism which has so infected clergy in the last 50 years and to foster humility.

Dressing up bishops and priests is not about finery and frippery.  It isn’t about the cleric at all.  It’s about preparing the victim for the altar.  It’s about giving our best to God.  It’s about decorum and humility.  The rules for dress, like the rubrics for Mass, kept the cleric under tight control, just as uniforms do in the military, etc.  I think it is appalling that certain priests or prelates, low and high, refuse to put on this thing or that thing which their office or occasion or liturgical role requires because, by gum, they know better.   That’s rank clericalism.  That’s exaltation of self.   When you see a patient bishop standing mute and docile as he is being dressed for a Pontifical Mass, when you see the priest laboring under hot and sometimes uncomfortable vestments and you view the action through the lenses of the particular vesting prayers, something of the genius inhering of the Roman Rite begins to shine through in a kind of liturgical transfiguration.

It is like the Pauline concept of putting on “the new man”, manifested in ritual gesture.  In Galatians, Paul writes: “And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me.”

In the vesting of a bishop before Mass he prayers with the words of Ephesians 6:15 and Psalm 60:5: “Shod my feet, Lord, unto the preparation of the gospel of peace, and protect me under the cover of thy wings.”

We conform to the rites and the rites shape us.  We are our rites.

This is why the rites themselves ought to change ever so slowly, in an organic way, always in continuity, not with the brutal imposition of artificially created and innovation riddled forms.  That is why we need to reestablish the Roman use and then have a long period of stability in which we once again become comfortable in the rites, not in the self-consciousness of learning or novelty.

I’ve written about buckles before, and I added the observation that Summorum Pontificum was , if you get my drift.

Anyway, it seems that the laws still in force in 1962 priests were directed to have buckles on their shoes for Mass even if that was honored more in the breach and in the observance.  I’m looking for the text of the Decree from the Sacred Congregation for Rites about buckles on the priest’s shoes for Mass.  Maybe one of you readers has already done this.

So, I considering now the use of buckles.   How do they look?

* Not to be confused with the camauro, which when it was worn Benedict XVI there was some serious horsepower under the hood.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. I seem to recall that in the Book of Exodus, God had lengthy and detailed specifications for Aaron’s priestly dress, and that many of the items he was to wear were specifically for the adornment of his manly beauty. And this was only a type of the priesthood under the New Covenant! How much more should actual priests of the New Covenant take care in their vesting and deportment!

  2. Kennedy says:

    How can the Camaro outshine the Moon landing? I am shocked to find myself disagreeing with Fr. Z!

    [Okay, I grant you Apollo 11. But consider that this was the year that Paul VI deleted lots of saints from the calendar and increased the College of Cardinals by 30%. It was also the year of Stonewall, blech. And – oh the humanity – Brits stopped using the halfpenny!]

  3. monstrance says:

    1969 Bo upset Woody to start the Ten Year War.
    It’s a Buckeye – Wolverine thing

  4. acardnal says:

    Camaro vs Masstang? A divini .

  5. acardnal says:

    Should read: A divine dilemma.

  6. acardnal says:

    Smart phones are not so smart when it comes to typing.

  7. Markus says:

    Serving Mass in 1962 (to 1970) the Franciscans at our parish wore sandals.

  8. The Cobbler says:

    The buckles… don’t look like they’re buckling anything? The boots appear to be bound by string. Perhaps I’m missing something though – or perhaps this is “working as designed”, either in the sense that the buckles are decorative or in the sense that they don’t go on those boots, which might be only for scale.

    The buckles themselves look like they should be both fashionable and fastenable!

    Also, I didn’t realize till reading these comments that I read “halfpenny” as “haypenny”.

  9. JonPatrick says:

    Some other things that happened in 1969, bad and good. Woodstock. Chappaquiddick. The first messages on the ARPAnet which later grew into the Internet. The Boeing 747.

    One memorable thing for me was my AFROTC detachment flying down to Cape Canaveral to see Apollo 9 on the launch pad and Apollo 10 and 11 in the VAB.

    My Mom got her pride and joy that year a dark green Camaro with the 327 engine. It could move.

    I had stopped being a practicing Catholic by then so I missed the whole “reform” of the Mass until I reverted in 1999.

  10. Sue says:

    When I saw our new pontiff in his old, worn out, brown shoes I thought “This man does not respect this office. We’re in trouble.” Of course I hoped I was wrong.

    [I have some sympathy for the shoe choice. He uses custom-made orthopedic shoes. He wasn’t young. “As comfortable as an old shoe” is literally a byword for well-being. At any age, having to stand and walk for a long time in shoes that have never been worn, much less by you, is not a pleasant prospect. However, after some time, he could have any shoes he desired. Far more troubling is the blatant refusal of the traditional gear of his office.]

  11. jaykay says:

    The Cobbler: “Also, I didn’t realize till reading these comments that I read “halfpenny” as “haypenny”.”

    That’s actually how we pronounced it, not “half – penny”, 2 distinct words. Similarly, “twopence” (two pennies” was pronounced “tuppence”. In fact, what was withdrawn in July 1969 was the old pre-decimal halfpenny, of which there were 24 to a shilling. At decimalisation (15 Feb 1971) the “new halfpenny” was introduced, which was in use until it was finally withdrawn in 1984 – to nobody’s regret as it was a wretched little coin.

  12. Ellen says:

    1969, I graduated high school and started college. Tuition was 150.00 a semester – how times have changed!!!
    As for the vestments and all. I recently watched a video of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and it’s quite amazing the vesting that the monarch goes through before the actual coronation. Of course they stole and then kept all that ritual from the Catholic Church.

  13. Kathleen10 says:

    I like the buckles and anything that maintains a recognizable Catholic rite and church for the proper worship of God. We’ve allowed dissidents to make history, tradition, and rubrics bad words.
    We should reclaim them and never let them go. This is our heritage, which we are supposed to pass down intact. Thank you for caring about these things, Fr. Z.

  14. Vesting for Mass SHOULD be a (and if you do it right, is) needed ritual that is sadly forgotten or done in haste. Nothing that serious should be approached as if it is thing to get over with.

    As our esteemed host says: We are our rites. Saying that goes more deeply than just those 4 words, IMNSHO. EVERY minister, from the porter up to a bishop, has a role to perform within that context. It’s not a job (punch in, bang: I’m an acolyte or ???), a function (holding the boat), or an ‘atmosphere’ display (don’t I look fine in this shapeless alb?) but a part of something other-worldly (that of the banquet of Heaven), and as such, the person performing the role is not the person themselves but part of an orchestral activity where the whole IS greater than even the sum of the parts.

    If you perform a role…then how it appears should be apparent to the participants. We don’t salute the person with eagles on his shoulder boards…we salute what those emblems represent. So too should it be with the vestments and accoutrements of our liturgical worship. Every article has a purpose; throw away the article and the reasons why it is used are subtracted from the tribal knowledge and detract from the understanding of what we’re doing.

    I always wondered what the “DOM” over the door of St. Anne’s meant (yes, you can always learn something new, even in my 7th decade). When I took the time to look it up, Deo Optimo Maximo (‘To God, who is the greatest” in some translations), should we have any less in our re-presentation of Our Lord’s sacrifice than the best we can offer?

  15. Mac in Calgary says:

    Sorry to disagree, Father, but 1969 was an AWESOME year. No matter what was happening in Rome or elsewhere. I too finished high school and started university, tuition $444.50 a year including student union fees. And in the first day of classes, a bit after 4 p.m., we all introduced ourselves in a first-year French class. And the brunette on the other side of the room was beautiful. She still is, but with maybe a bit of grey mixed in. And we have nine grandchildren.
    So no hating on 1969.

  16. FrT says:

    I’ve never understood this. Yes, buckled shoes were abolished. They are no longer ‘priestly shoes’ to be used on certain occasions. Yet does this mean that they are de facto forbidden from being worn?

    The Church gives us certain rules about clerical dress. As far as I know, however, there are no longer any rules on what shoes we are to wear as priests. I can wear loafers, monk shoes, boots etc. I find it a very strange argument that maintains that a priests can wear WHATEVER shoes he wants as long as they don’t have a buckle attached to the front. Any thoughts?

    [Shoes with buckles are not forbidden in contexts of the Extraordinary Form. The dress in force in 1962 may be used. I think it should be used. Otherwise, why shouldn’t a priest be able to wear a shoe with a buckle? These shoes have a buckle.


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