Roman chasuble: from travelling cloak to precious vestment

Roman chasuble: from travelling cloak to precious vestment

Formerly confused with the classic chasuble, the Roman chasuble had major and important changes starting from the 14th Century, first and foremost the elimination of sleeves.
The Roman chasuble, a liturgical vestment worn by priests during Eucharistic celebrations, has always been mistakenly confused with the normal chasuble, which however differs from the latter not so much in its use but in its shape.

At the beginning, the Roman chasuble was a kind of travelling cloak used by priests during their travels to protect themselves from the weather, but it was then adopted as an overcoat in the 3rd Century. Over the time, it changed its appearance and its use was then transformed into a sacred vestment. At first, the Roman chasuble used to be longer and with sleeves, similar to the present chasuble. However, starting from the 14th Century it changed its appearance. Not only its length was reduced, but also the sleeves were definitively removed in order to leave priest's arms free of movement. In addition to that, unlike past Roman chasubles, nowadays they are more and more rigid and lined.

All in all, there are different types of Roman chasubles, which are not very dissimilar to each other. The first one is of course the Roman chasuble, which has a trapezoidal opening for the head and a central vertical stripe as a back ornament. Then there is the Spanish chasuble, which is slightly longer than the Roman one,while the Gothic chasuble, unlike the former, has narrower sleeves with bell-shaped ends. Last but not least the French chasuble with lots of ornaments, but still with a similar opening to the Roman chasuble.

In short, a particular manufacturing product such as the Roman chasuble has always been made of precious fabrics, such as silk and viscose, with golden embroidery that have always represented real masterpieces of art, increasing its value. That is also why the oldest Roman chasubles still require special restoration works which are suitable to the changings of the time.