Summa Theologiae by St Thomas Aquinas
XP: Treatise On Contrition
Q40 Of The Things Annexed To The Sacrament Of Order
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A7 Whether the vestments of the ministers are fittingly instituted in the Church?

[a] Objection 1:
It would seem that the vestments of the ministers are not fittingly instituted in the Church. For the ministers of the New Testament are more bound to chastity than were the ministers of the Old Testament. Now among the vestments of the Old Testament there were the breeches as a sign of chastity. Much more therefore should they have a place among the vestments of the Church's ministers.

[b] Objection 2:
Further, the priesthood of the New Testament is more worthy than the priesthood of the Old. But the priests of the Old Testament had mitres, which are a sign of dignity. Therefore the priests of the New Testament should also have them.

[c] Objection 3:
Further, the priest is nearer than the episcopal Order to the Orders of ministers. Now the bishop uses the vestments of the ministers, namely the dalmatic, which is the deacon's vestment, and the tunic, which is the subdeacon's. Much more therefore should simple priests use them.

[d] Objection 4:
Further, in the Old Law the pontiff wore the ephod [* Superhumerale, i. e. over-the-shoulders], which signified the burden of the Gospel, as Bede observes (De Tabernac. iii). Now this is especially incumbent on our pontiffs. Therefore they ought to wear the ephod.

[e] Objection 5:
Further, "Doctrine and Truth" were inscribed on the "rational" which the pontiffs of the Old Testament wore. Now truth was made known especially in the New Law. Therefore it is becoming to the pontiffs of the New Law.

[f] Objection 6:
Further, the golden plate on which was written the most admirable name of God, was the most admirable of the adornments of the Old Law. Therefore it should especially have been transferred to the New Law.

[g] Objection 7:
Further, the things which the ministers of the Church wear outwardly are signs of inward power. Now the archbishop has no other kind of power than a bishop, as stated above [4919] (A [6]). Therefore he should not have the pallium which other bishops have not.

[h] Objection 8:
Further, the fulness of power resides in the Roman Pontiff. But he has not a crozier. Therefore other bishops should not have one.

[i] I answer that,
The vestments of the ministers denote the qualifications required of them for handling Divine things. And since certain things are required of all, and some are required of the higher, that are not so exacted of the lower ministers, therefore certain vestments are common to all the ministers, while some pertain to the higher ministers only. Accordingly it is becoming to all the ministers to wear the "amice" which covers the shoulders, thereby signifying courage in the exercise of the Divine offices to which they are deputed; and the "alb," which signifies a pure life, and the "girdle," which signifies restraint of the flesh. But the subdeacon wears in addition the "maniple" on the left arm; this signifies the wiping away of the least stains, since a maniple is a kind of handkerchief for wiping the face; for they are the first to be admitted to the handling of sacred things. They also have the "narrow tunic," signifying the doctrine of Christ; wherefore in the Old Law little bells hung therefrom, and subdeacons are the first admitted to announce the doctrine of the New Law. The deacon has in addition the "stole" over the left shoulder, as a sign that he is deputed to a ministry in the sacraments themselves, and the "dalmatic" (which is a full vestment, so called because it first came into use in Dalmatia), to signify that he is the first to be appointed to dispense the sacraments: for he dispenses the blood, and in dispensing one should be generous.

[j] But in the case of the priest the "stole" hangs from both shoulders, to show that he has received full power to dispense the sacraments, and not as the minister of another man, for which reason the stole reaches right down. He also wears the "chasuble," which signifies charity, because he it is who consecrates the sacrament of charity, namely the Eucharist.

[k] Bishops have nine ornaments besides those which the priest has; these are the "stockings, sandals, succinctory, tunic, dalmatic, mitre, gloves, ring, and crozier," because there are nine things which they can, but priests cannot, do, namely ordain clerics, bless virgins, consecrate bishops, impose hands, dedicate churches, depose clerics, celebrate synods, consecrate chrism, bless vestments and vessels.

[l] We may also say that the "stockings" signify his upright walk; the "sandals" which cover the feet, his contempt of earthly things; the "succinctory" which girds the stole with the alb, his love of probity; the "tunic," perseverance, for Joseph is said (Gn. 37:23) to have had a long tunic -- "talaric," because it reached down to the ankles [talos], which denote the end of life; the "dalmatic," generosity in works of mercy; the "gloves," prudence in action; the "mitre," knowledge of both Testaments, for which reason it has two crests; the "crozier," his pastoral care, whereby he has to gather together the wayward (this is denoted by the curve at the head of the crozier), to uphold the weak (this is denoted by the stem of the crozier), and to spur on the laggards (this is denoted by the point at the foot of the crozier). Hence the line:

[m] "Gather, uphold, spur on the wayward, the weak, and the laggard."

[n] The "ring" signifies the sacraments of that faith whereby the Church is espoused to Christ. For bishops are espoused to the Church in the place of Christ. Furthermore archbishops have the "pallium" in sign of their privileged power, for it signifies the golden chain which those who fought rightfully were wont to receive.

[o] Reply to Objection 1:
The priests of the Old Law were enjoined continency only for the time of their attendance for the purpose of their ministry. Wherefore as a sign of the chastity which they had then to observe, they wore the breeches while offering sacrifices. But the ministers of the New Testament are enjoined perpetual continency; and so the comparison fails.

[p] Reply to Objection 2:
The mitre was not a sign of dignity, for it was a kind of hat, as Jerome says (Ep. ad Fabiol.). But the diadem which was a sign of dignity was given to the pontiffs alone, as the mitre is now.

[q] Reply to Objection 3:
The power of the ministers resides in the bishop as their source, but not in the priest, for he does not confer those Orders. Wherefore the bishop, rather than the priest, wears those vestments.

[r] Reply to Objection 4:
Instead of the ephod, they wear the stole, which is intended for the same signification as the ephod.

[s] Reply to Objection 5:
The pallium takes the place of the "rational."

[t] Reply to Objection 6:
Instead of that plate our pontiff wears the cross, as Innocent III says (De Myst. Miss. i), just as the breeches are replaced by the sandals, the linen garment by the alb, the belt by the girdle, the long or talaric garment by the tunic, the ephod by the amice, the "rational" by the pallium, the diadem by the mitre.

[u] Reply to Objection 7:
Although he has not another kind of power he has the same power more fully, and so in order to designate this perfection, he receives the pallium which surrounds him on all sides.

[v] Reply to Objection 8:
The Roman Pontiff does not use a pastoral staff because Peter sent his to restore to life a certain disciple who afterwards became bishop of Treves. Hence in the diocese of Treves the Pope carries a crozier but not elsewhere; or else it is a sign of his not having a restricted power denoted by the curve of the staff.