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CHASUBLE

is the work of Lefèbvre de Saint-Remi, herald of the Golden Fleece. In the allegorical Oultré d’amour it has been thought a real romance between Brézé and a lady of the royal house is concealed.

See A. Molinier, Les Sources de l’histoire de France; as well as notices by Kervyn de Lettenhove prefixed to the Œuvres and in the Biographie nationale de Belgique; and an article (three parts) by Vallet de Viriville in the Journal des savants (1867).


CHASUBLE (Fr. chasuble, Ger. Kasel, Span. casulla; Late Lat. casula, a little house, hut, from casa), a liturgical vestment of the Catholic Church. It is the outermost garment worn by bishops and priests at the celebration of the Mass, forming with the alb (q.v.) the most essential part of the eucharistic vestments. Since it is only used at the Mass, or rarely for functions intimately connected with the sacrament of the altar, it may be regarded as the Mass vestment par excellence. The chasuble is thus in a special sense the sacerdotal vestment, and at the ordination of priests, according to the Roman rite, the bishop places on the candidate a chasuble rolled up at the back (planeta plicata), with the words, “Take the sacerdotal robe, the symbol of love,” &c.; at the end of the ordination Mass the vestment is unrolled. The chasuble or planeta (as it is called in the Roman missal), according to the prevailing model in the Roman Catholic Church, is a scapular-like cloak, with a hole in the middle for the head, falling down over breast and back, and leaving the arms uncovered at the sides. Its shape and size, however, differ considerably in various countries (see fig. 1), while some churches—e.g. those of certain monastic orders—have retained or reverted to the earlier “Gothic” forms to be described later. According to the decisions of the Congregation of Rites chasubles must not be of linen, cotton or woollen stuffs, but of silk; though a mixture of wool (or linen and cotton) and silk is allowed if the silk completely cover the other material on the outer side; spun glass thread, as a substitute for gold or silver thread, is also forbidden, owing to the possible danger to the priest’s health through broken fragments falling into the chalice.

EB1911 Chasuble - Fig. 1.—Comparative shape and size of Chasubles.jpg
From Braun’s Liturgische Gewandung, by permission of the publisher, B. Herder.

Fig. 1.—Comparative shape and size of Chasubles as now in use in various countries.
a, b, German. c, Roman. d, Spanish.

The chasuble, like the kindred vestments (the φελόνιον, &c.) in the Eastern Churches, is derived from the Roman paenula or planeta, a cloak worn by all classes and both sexes in the Graeco-Roman world (see Vestments). Though early used in the celebration of the liturgy it had for several centuries no specifically liturgical character, the first clear instances of its ritual use being in a letter of St Germanus of Paris (d. 576), and the next in the twenty-eighth canon of the Council of Toledo (633). Much later than this, however, it was still an article of everyday clerical dress, and as such was prescribed by the German council convened by Carloman and presided over by St Boniface in 742. Amalarius of Metz, in his De ecclesiasticis officiis (ii. 19), tells us in 816 that the casula is the generale indumentum sacrorum ducum and “is proper generally to all the clergy.” It was not until the 11th century, when the cope (q.v.) had become established as a liturgical vestment, that the chasuble began to be reserved as special to the sacrifice of the Mass. As illustrating this process Father Braun (p. 170) cites an interesting correspondence between Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury and John of Avranches, archbishop of Rouen, as to the propriety of a bishop wearing a chasuble at the consecration of a church, Lanfranc maintaining as an established principle that the vestment should be reserved for the Mass. By the 13th century, with the final development of the ritual of the Mass, the chasuble became definitely fixed as the vestment of the celebrating priest; though to this day in the Roman Church relics of the earlier general use of the chasuble survive in the planeta plicata worn by deacons and subdeacons in Lent and Advent, and other penitential seasons.

At the Reformation the chasuble was rejected with the other vestments by the more extreme Protestants. Its use, however, survived in the Lutheran churches; and though in those of Germany it is no longer worn, it still forms part of the liturgical costume of the Scandinavian Evangelical churches. In the Church of England, though it was prescribed alternatively with the cope in the First Prayer-Book of Edward VI., it was ultimately discarded, with the other “Mass vestments,” the cope being substituted for it at the celebration of the Holy Communion in cathedral and collegiate churches; its use has, however, during the last fifty years been widely revived in connexion with the reactionary movement in the direction of the pre-Reformation doctrine of the eucharist. The difficult question of its legality is discussed in the article Vestments.

Form.—The chasuble was originally a tent-like robe which fell in loose folds below the knee (see Plate I. fig. 4). Its obvious inconvenience for celebrating the holy mysteries, however, caused its gradual modification. The object of the change was primarily to leave the hands of the celebrant freer for the careful performance of the manual acts, and to this end a process of cutting away at the sides of the vestment began, which continued until the tent-shaped chasuble of the 12th century had developed in the 16th into the scapular-like vestment at present in use. This process was, moreover, hastened by the substitution of costly and elaborately embroidered materials for the simple stuffs of which the vestment had originally been composed; for, as it became heavier and stiffer, it necessarily had to be made smaller. For the extremely exiguous proportions of some chasubles actually in use, which have been robbed of all the beauty of form they ever possessed, less respectable motives have sometimes been responsible, viz. the desire of their makers to save on the materials. The most beautiful form of the chasuble is undoubtedly the “Gothic” (see the figure of Bishop Johannes of Lübeck in the article Vestments), which is the form most affected by the Anglican clergy, as being that worn in the English Church before the Reformation.

Decoration.—Though planetae decorated with narrow orphreys are occasionally met with in the monuments of the early centuries, these vestments were until the 10th century generally quite plain, and even at the close of this century, when the custom of decorating the chasuble with orphreys had become common, there was no definite rule as to their disposition; sometimes they were merely embroidered borders to the neck-opening or hem, sometimes a vertical strip down the back, less often a forked cross, the arms of which turned upwards over the shoulders. From this time onward, however, the embroidery became ever more and more elaborate, and with this tendency the orphreys were broadened to allow of their being decorated with figures. About the middle of the 13th century, the cross with horizontal arms begins to appear on the back of the vestment, and by the 15th this had become the most usual form, though the forked cross also survived—e.g. in England, where it is now considered distinctive of the chasuble as worn in the Anglican Church. Where the forked cross is used it is placed both on the back and front of the vestment; the horizontal-armed cross, on the other hand, is placed only on the back, the front being decorated with a vertical strip extending to the lower hem (fig. 1, b, d). Sometimes the back of the chasuble has no cross, but only a vertical orphrey, and in this case the front, besides the vertical stripe, has a horizontal orphrey just below