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Out of the Question

07 November 2014


Your answers

What is the origin of the shoulder cape that I have seen worn on top of a cassock by some Anglo-Catholic priests? When should it be worn? Is it the same as a mozetta?

A shoulder cape, often attached to cassocks worn by many Anglo-Catholic priests, is known as a pellegrina, a name that clearly indicates its Roman origin. At one time, the right to wear these capes was restricted to cardinals and bishops in the Roman Church.

It is, however, believed that, when the Roman hierarchy was restored in England and Wales in the mid-19th century, Pope Pius IX granted an extension of this privilege to all RC priests in the British Isles.

Be that as it may, Anglo-Catholic clergy quickly followed the fashion as a means of demonstrating their status as priests. Double-breasted cassocks of the Sarum style were exchanged for full Roman outfits that included a cape. There were, however, some priests who still favoured the Sarum cassock, but persuaded themselves that it could be worn with a cape.

On top of what has always been the everyday and outdoor dress of Anglican clergy, the cape will obviously be regularly worn, but some priests use it in choir dress, drawn over surplice or cotta, in preference to an academic hood and scarf.

These clerical capes should not be confused with the distinctively RC mozetta, whose colour and material depends on the dignity of the wearer, or with the modern adaptation of the almuce, worn by canons of many Anglican cathedrals.

(Canon) Terry Palmer
Magor, Monmouthshire

Its significance (dare one say, its theology) was that it derived from the capes worn by ostlers in inns up and down the land. The ostler was the man who took care of travellers' horses while they stayed at an inn. His final duty, as they left, was to bend down and allow the rider to put on his boots on his shoulder cape so that he (the ostler) could more easily hoist the rider into the saddle.

Thus it has to do with enabling people to be hoisted/lifted up. In the case of the priest, lifted up to God.

(The Revd) Bruce Bridgewood
Amersham Hill, High Wycombe


Your questions

When will do away with the awful response "And also with you?" P. T.


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