The chasuble is the outermost liturgical vestment worn by clergy for the celebration of the Eucharist among Western-tradition Christian churches that use full vestments, primarily the Roman Catholic Church, "high church" congregations in the Anglican Church, and by some clergy in the United Methodist Church. It is also used as the primary vestment by some Lutheran denominations, especially the Nordic state Lutheran churches, and is the principal outer vestment worn by bishops and presbyters in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (whose ordained clergy usually follow the "Broad Church" practices of the Anglican Communion). In the Eastern rites, the equivalent vestment is the phelonion. The chasuble usually worn over an alb and cassock, or over a cassock-alb, and is generally made in a color determined either by the liturgical colour of the day, or by the particular service being celebrated (e.g. black, purple or white for a funeral service).
This vestment originated as a sort of poncho, with a round hole in the middle through which to pass the head, and falling to the feet. Thus, it had to be folded around the arms to allow them to be used. Strings and deacons were used to assist in this task. Over the centuries it was reduced to the shape of a broad scapular, referred to as the "fiddleback" style, which left the arms completely free at each side. Complex schemes of decoration were often used, incorporating the image of the cross or of a saint, and for major celebrations rich materials such as silk, cloth of gold or brocade were employed.
Following the Second Vatican Council, the scapular form became less common in Roman Catholic churches, with the return to widespread use of the fuller, "Gothic" or "early" style used in more ancient times, along with simplification of material and design. Often designs of recent chasubles are radically modern, and sometimes deemed untasteful by those appreciative of classical art.
This led to a preference for the "fiddleback" being seen in some circles as a sign of traditionalism, or even rebellion against the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. However, some priests affirm a preference for the scapular form simply as a matter of taste and comfort, and fiddleback chasubles have recently been returning to mainstream catalogues of clerical wear.