Sacristy Tips: The Roman Method for Wearing a Roman Stole

It may come as a surprise that stoles, like chasubles, can come in different forms. Oh, for certain, the different shapes of the ends of the stole might be well enough known, with some coming in a "spade" or "shovel" form and others being much more straight. Less known, however, is that in addition to these variations the stole can also be shaped differently at the neck.

Two basic forms exist. One is the "pointed" style where the left and right sides of the stole join at an angled point at the base of the neck. This has the effect of forcing the stole to sit down lower on the priest and away from the neck:

(Photo: FSSP Lyon)
The second form, which is "non-pointed," is what some refer to as the "Roman" stole. This form has no point; instead, it is simply cut straight from the one end of the stole to the other in a single, uninterrupted line.

The Roman style stole shown here is folded for display/photographic purposes, but you can see that it is perfectly straight  but for the ends. (Photo via Sacra Domus Aurea)
Much like the fact that there is a proper and improper way to wear a conical chasuble, so too is there a proper technique to be observed in the wearing these non-pointed, Roman stoles. When this technique is not observed, what happens is that the stole will ride up quite high on the neck of the priest, reaching up to the base of the head. This is, of course, neither aesthetically pleasing, nor is it terribly practical-- since it will only result in the stole becoming more quickly worn and soiled.

To avoid this, you will want to wear these non-pointed, Roman stoles in the traditional Roman way. To do this is quite simple. The stole is simply placed over the neck as usual and then flipped under to create a point that will rest around the upper, middle of the back:

An example of this in action where a server does this for the priest as he vests for Mass:

Screen captures by Paul Riedel
Without a server to assist, the priest would simply do this himself -- the motion being very much the same as if you were flipping back the collar on a shirt or jacket.

The end result of this Roman method of wearing the non-pointed, Roman stole is that it sits more comfortably on the priest, is less prone to soiling, and it is much more aesthetically pleasing when worn with the chasuble.

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