Monday, 4 July 2016


A Reflection on What it Costs to Dress a Bishop
Start with the mitre, a pointy hat the bishop wears whenever he does rituals.  He should have two kinds for a pontifical high mass: a precious and plain gold.
Under the mitre he wears a zucchetto, a little purple beanie.
Moving on we start with the bottom layer….a purple cassock with a matching sash.  Although bishops get to wear black cassocks with purple trim, the proper one for saying Mass is the purple one.
Around his neck he wears a pectoral cross with a special braided cord.
Over the cassock for mass he starts with an amice, a rectangular  piece of linen, a remnant of a hood.  Then comes the alb, the long white robe.  The bishops gets to wear ones trimmed with lace at the cuffs and at the bottom half.  The cincture is a braided rope worn around the waist, sort of like a belt. 
The stole is worn around the neck and extends down below the waist.  It matches the outer vestment in color and material.  On the right arm he wears a maniple, a narrow strip of the same material as the stole.  It looks like the napkin a waiter has over his arm.
Next comes the tunic, the outer vestment proper to the subdeacon.  Over that he wears a dalmatic which is identical in basic style and cut but which has a distinguishing bar that differentiates it from the tunic .  This is the outer vestment proper to the deacon.  The bishop wears both because he has the “fullness of the holy orders.”
Finally the top garment is the chasuble, the vestment proper to the celebrant of the Mass.

A sampling of prices for the basic outfit:

This lovely hat is a bargain at $20,000
But then in cost-conscious days it might be better to buy this one for only $10,000.  I made the picture larger to encourage buying this one…..
For the penny-pinching bishop you can get a zuchetto for about $30. This one costs $60.
      This zuchetto is my favorite. Colorful, light-weight, and you can wash and spin-dry.
Another good buy is this smart-looking cassock for just over $800. (tax and shipping not included).
Under the cassock of course you should have episcopal socks and episcopal slippers……I guess bishops wear normal underwear.
These socks which every bishop must have are only $320. If you buy more than one pair, you get a discount.
They go nicely with these slippers…….guaranteed to make no embarrassing noise in processions. These are a steal at $1500 and they last just about forever…..They do need to be aired-out after long services.
If you are a cardinal, you should have a simple cardinal’s hat for colorful walks outside…a delightful view in autumn visits to the forest. 
This one — I would love to have one if I were a cardinal — comes to $800. But again, if you don’t wear it in the rain it will last for years!
Well you do  have to have a ring. This humble-looking one is about $300 in cheap silver and $1800 in episcopal gold.
Then you must have a pectoral cross. Here there is a great range of prices. My favorite is this one. In sterling it is just under $1000 but heck if you made it to bishop why not go gold all the way. This one in gold is now just $5000.
I will not wear you out with more clothes and accessories. BUT….you have to have a cozier!
Here you can get a simple-looking cheap one for about $600. But they look VERY CHEAP.
When it comes to croziers — traditionalist that I am — I prefer the neo-con look. This one is about $3000.
Well friends, this is enough for this week. I have my catalogue and adding machine next to me
and just realized that when Cardinal Raymond Burke (nothing unkind meant here)  dresses-up for a Pontifical High Mass
it costs about $30,000 to outfit him……… But on the other hand, plain old bishops are much less expensive…….


  1. Into july and still no word from 'Lisbreen mansion' on what is to become of drumbogate. Fr kelly still saying masses surely the parishoners of carryduff are owed an explanation. As Fr Kelly is due to retire shortly. surely a lot of questions must be answered before he goes.

    1. Surely you realise by now that in the RC institution "cover up" is the default position?

      They all look after each others back.

      Truth, honesty, transparency, etc all come low down on the list.

      So much for: "The truth shall set you free" :-(

    2. Shame on the Irish News who broke the Carryduff story with sensational headlines on the 11th June and since then have done nothing to follow up with an update on the issues raised. Have they been warned off by Lisbreen? That paper seems to be controlled by "the powers that be" within the Church.

  2. "And he told them to take nothing with them on their journey.. No sandals etc etc."
    Now where do we read that?

    Iggy O Donovan

    1. Your comment makes a fundamental point. There is nothing in the sartorial behaviour of these men that suggests, even remotely, the Nazarene and his friends at the Last Supper. No wonder the Body of Christ is lacerated from one generation to the next.

  3. If I've said it once on here, I've said it half a dozen times. When you look at some of these over dressed pantomime dames and like Burke, Brady etc and you look at the innocent child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger you have to ask where did it all go wrong?

  4. A fascinating inventory - and an eye-opening price tag! I've formed the impression that some young clergy seem attracted to ornate ecclesiastical garb - even the biretta! But, when seen against the backcloth of the early Church - as recorded in the Book of Acts - and the Gospel of grace, I'm at a loss to understand the lavish (dare I say "extravagance"?) entailed.
    Jarlath Vaughan

  5. MourneManMichael4 July 2016 at 20:31

    Reading this put me in mind of two childhood recollections.
    "The Kings New Clothes", based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and as sung by Danny Kaye on Childrens Favourites at 9:00am on Saturday mornings.
    Then there's the story of "The Shirt of a Happy Man". I think it's of Italian or French origin and we did it in French class back in the 1950's.
    There's a moral or two in those stories for our 'peacock pastors'.
    Anyone remember the stories too?

  6. A naked Christ, nailed to a wooden cross, with blood, shit and piss running down his mutilated body as he died and this nonsense, aping the courts of long dead Byzantium and the middle ages with their golden fancy dress and robes and symbols of power. It is truly vile and whose precedents are so clearly witnessed in the New Testament with Christ and his encounters with the Temple priesthood.

    1. Yes, it IS truly vile. And your description of the agonised Christ on the cross is historically accurate.

      These men are an affront to Christ.

  7. Auld +Dominic Conway was as Roman as overpriced Pizza but i never saw him with all that garb on in one go. The image above reminds me of one of Dr Who's Dalek's I wonder who pushes the remote control and who pays for the batteries

    1. I saw John Charles McQuaid of Dublin wearing a lot of it.

  8. JC mcQuaid was an out and out power crazy control freak !!