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An Anglican priest vested as a deacon, with alb and cincture and a purple stole.

Albe Priester-Heilig Bloed.jpg

The alb, one of the liturgical vestments of the Roman Catholic, Anglican and many Protestant churches, is an ample white garment coming down to the ankles and usually girdled with a cincture. It is simply the long linen tunic used by the Romans. In Early Medieval Europe it was also normally worn by secular clergy in non-liturgical contexts.[1]

It is the oldest liturgical vestment, and was adopted very early by Christians, and especially by the clergy for the Eucharistic liturgy. Nowadays, the alb is the common vestment for all ministers at Mass, both clerics and laypersons, and is worn over the cassock and under any other special garments, such as the stole, dalmatic or chasuble. If the alb does not completely cover the collar, an amice is often worn underneath the alb. The shortening of the alb for use outside a church has given rise to the surplice and its cousin the rochet, worn by canons and bishops. Post-Tridentine albs often were made with lace. Since then, this detail has fallen out of style, except in parts of the Anglo-Catholic movement and some very traditional Roman Catholic parishes. In many Anglican parishes, the alb is decorated with apparels. In most High Anglican churches, the Alb is an undergarment worn under the vestments. In some lower and broad Anglican Churches, the alb is considered everyday wear.

A chasuble-alb is a contemporary Eucharistic vestment that combines features of the chasuble and alb. In the Roman Catholic Church, it was first adopted in France, though without official approval. In France it is no longer fashionable. But it has been officially approved in some countries such as the Philippines [2] and in Hawaii.[3] It is always white in colour. A stole of the colour appointed for the Mass of the day is worn outside it, in place of the normal white alb and coloured chasuble.

See also


  1. Piponnier, Françoise, and Perrine Mane; Dress in the Middle Ages; p. 114, Yale University Press; 1997; ISBN 0300069065
  2. Eternal Word Television Network, Global Catholic Network of January 25, 2003.
  3. Bishop Larry Silva’s Liturgical Catechesis at the Hawaii Catholic Herald