Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vestments and Vesture

One thing that is a bit hard about switching from a Western liturgical background to an Eastern rite is the vestments. At first there are so many other things that are more important than figuring out the vestments, but eventually a person says to himself, "Hey, what's going on up there? Those cuffs are pretty neat, but where's all the stuff with which I'm familiar?"

There are many vestments in the Eastern Rite, but it's not so many when you get around their names. Vestments would be a general term under which we can describe the vesture of clergy and monastics (and sometimes laity) in their liturgical and non-liturgical settings. Right now I want to look at what is worn outside the Liturgy and prayer offices (Orthros, Vespers, etc.), that is, what is not specifically a liturgical garment.

Eastern Rite: Anterri

No, these are not pajamas. This is the Eastern cassock. It is the basic garment of priests and monastics. When not serving at the Liturgy or another service the anterri is what you might consider normal dress.

I have found them in three styles: Greek, Russian, and Serbian. The Greek is pictured to the side, featuring a tie around the waist and a pocket. The Russian, called podryasnik, is double-breasted with a high collar buttoned off-center. The Serbian cassock I have seen has buttons from the top down to just below the chest and was put on over the head.

Laity: A layperson might wear the anterri with the blessing of the priest when assisting during Vespers, Orthros, or Liturgy, though not always. I suppose for the laity this non-liturgical bit of vesture becomes a liturgical vestment. However, canonically the anterri or podryasnik is not a lay garment, but the proper and normal attire for those with the clerical tonsure and/or the monastic tonsure.

Monastic: The monk wears the anterri at all times. It is his basic clothing.

Clergy: This is the basic vesture of the clergy, though in America it is very common to see clergy wear black slacks and a black clerical when out and about, rather than the anterri. This is an accommodation to America, though it may not be as necessary in today's cultural climate as it was thirty or forty years ago.

Western Rite: Cassock

Those familiar with Western liturgy will be familiar with the cassock. It tends to come in a Roman/Latin style (i.e. with buttons down the front) or Anglican/Sarum style (i.e. double-breasted). I've always favored the Roman. They are very comfortable.

Laity: When worn by the laity the cassock serves as a liturgical garment.

Monastic: Are there any Western Rite monastics? I honestly don't know. Thanks, Dave, for the answer and links to a couple Western Rite monasteries. Adding on to the original post, the monastic wears the Tunic, which is similar to the cassock and the anterri. Usually it is worn with a cincture.

Clergy: Like the anterri, the cassock is the regular apparel of those in clerical orders, major or minor.

Origin of the Anterri / Cassock

The cassock was originally just the tunic, the most basic garment worn by nearly all people in the Roman Empire. The tunic was covered with a mantle (think cloak). Monastics and clergy eventually adopted the color black for their tunics for symbolic reasons. Ancient Faith Radio has an enlightening article on the topic by the Opinionated Tailor, Krista West.


Anonymous said...

"Are there any Western Rite monastics?"

Good question. This is what I've found:

1) www.christminster.org (under ROCOR)
2) www.orthodoxwiki.org/St._Petroc_Monastery_(Cascades,_Tasmania)

Fr John W Fenton said...

To confirm what Dave wrote, three monks from Christminister monastery in Hamilton Ontario visited Holy Incarnation on the Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi in 2009. A fourth--the prior--was unable to join them.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering...are the Christminster monks 'Western Rite - Orthodox-not Catholic right?' meaning not a part of the Western Rites within the Catholic Church, where there are several Western Rites (Roman Rite (most popular), the Mozarabic Rite, teh Ambrosian Rite and the Bragan Rite... for Catholic monastics: the Carthusian Rite, the Dominican Rite and the Carmelite Rite. Very interesting I did not know the Orthodox had Western Rites. Could you lead me to a site where I may learn about the Western Rite Orthodox. Thank you. PAX!

Deacon Benjamin Harju said...


Yes, the Christminster monks are Western Rite Orthodox, not Roman Catholic.

You can learn more about Western Rite Orthodoxy at the following:

The Antiochian Archdiocese Web Site for Western Rite Orthodoxy

Holy Incarnation Orthodox Church


I hope this is of some help.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Benjamin, I really appreciate this.