A deacon wearing an alb and cincture wth a purple stole.
A deacon wearing an alb and cincture wth a purple stole.

The alb, one of the liturgical vestments of the Roman Catholic, Anglican and many Protestant churches, is an ample garment of white linen coming down to the ankles and usually girded with a cincture. It is simply the long linen tunic used by the Romans of old. 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 street clothes or the cassock and under any other special garments, such as the stole, dalmatic or chasuble. 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. Before Vatican II the alb had evolved to include elements of lace. Since then, this detail has fallen out of style, except in parts of the Anglo-Catholic movement and some Roman Catholic parishes.

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