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A History Of The Mass And Its Ceremonies In The Eastern And Western Church -Rev John O'Brien A.M.

The Stole ranks fifth in the catalogue. It is a long band of precious cloth, of the same width as the Maniple, but about three times its length. It is worn round the neck and crossed on the breast, in which position it is kept by the Cincture. It is universally admitted that originally the Stole was very similar to the modern Alb, and that, like the latter, it used to envelop the entire person (Durandus, Rationale Divinorum, lib. iii., v. 6, p. 108).

According to Cardinal Bona (Rer. Liturg., 282), what we now call a Stole is nothing else but the ornamental band that used to form the selvage of what was really the Stole of the ancients; and that as soon as the practice of wearing that kind of Stole went into desuetude the band was retained as a sort of memorial of it, just as the Maniple is a memorial of the ancient Sudarium, or handkerchief.

Who may Wear the Stole.—The right to wear the Stole begins from the time of one’s ordination as deacon. The deacon, however, cannot wear it as a priest does—that is, around both shoulders—but only as yet over the left shoulder, and fastened at the right side; and this to remind him of his inferiority in orders to a priest, and of his obligation to be as little encumbered as possible, especially about the right hand, when acting as his assistant minister. Upon this head the fourth Council of Toledo, held in A.D. 633, under Pope Honorius I., issued the following directions: “The levite (deacon) ought to wear one Orarion (Stole) on his left shoulder when he prays; but he must have the right shoulder free, to the end that he may be the more expeditious in administering to the wants of the priest” (Bona, Rer. Liturg., 282).

The bishop wears the Stole pendent on both sides, without crossing it on the breast as a priest does, and this because he wears a cross already on his breast—viz., the Pectoral Cross—whereby this necessity is obviated (Gavantus, 134).

The prayer recited by the priest while vesting himself with the Stole is worded thus: “Restore to me, O Lord! the Stole of immortality which I lost through the transgression of my first parents, and, though I approach unworthily to celebrate thy sacred Mystery, may I merit nevertheless eternal joy.”

Many of the Anglo-Saxon Stoles and Maniples had little bells of silver and gold attached to them, which made a most agreeable, delicate sound whenever the sacred minister changed his position. Dr. Rock, in his Church of Our Fathers, vol. i. p. 415, note 60, tells us that there was once kept at Liege, in the Abbey Church of Wazor, the Stole of St. Foraunan, an Irish bishop who died in A.D. 982 while abbot of that monastery, which had hanging from its extremities a number of little silver bells. These little bells were sometimes as many as twenty-seven (ibid.)

Stole of the Orientals.—The Stole of the Orientals, generally known as the Epitrachelion, from the Greek ἐπί, upon, and τράχηλον, the neck, is somewhat different from ours; for instead of being parted, so as to allow it to hang down equally on each side, it is made of one piece of stuff, with a seam worked along its middle, and having an opening at the top wide enough to allow the priest’s head to pass through. It hangs down, when worn at Mass, in front of the priest, reaching nearly to the instep.

The Copts call the Stole Bitarshil; the Syrians, Ouroro; the Armenians, Ourar (Goar, Euchol Græc., p. 111; Neale’s Holy Eastern Church, i. 308; Denzinger, Ritus Orient., 133).

Touching the origin of this word ourar, or orarium, as applied to the Stole in ancient manuscripts and liturgical writings, there has always been much dispute. We incline, for our part, to the side of those who derive it from the Greek ὥρα, an hour, because it was by waving the Orarium that the deacon pointed out the different hours or stages during divine service at which the choir would sing or the congregation pray. And this is in keeping with the Oriental discipline yet. It must be remembered, too, that the name Orarion was peculiar only to the Stole of the deacon; that of the priest was always called Epitrachelion.

We had almost forgotten to mention that at one time, at least as far back as the ninth century, priests and bishops, even when they were not in church, always wore the Stole as part of their ecclesiastical dress and as a distinctive mark of their dignity. The Council of Mayence, held in A.D. 813 under Pope Leo III., thus decreed upon this subject: “Let priests use the Stole without intermission, on account of the difference of the priestly dignity.” According to the present discipline, only the Pope wears the Stole in common daily life, and this in evidence of his jurisdiction over the universal Church (Kozma, Liturg. Sacr. Cathol., p. 46). The papal Stole is ornamented with three crosses, the keys, and tiara (ibid.)








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