What Do Priest Wear Under Their Robes?

Have you ever wondered why priests put on some many pieces under their robes? If you have been to a Catholic, Anglican, Methodist. Lutheran and other orthodox churches, you would have noticed that they put on different pieces of clothes under their robes.

Each of these clothes has its purpose and significance. This article will help you understand each of the clothes that priests wear under their robes, their relevance, and their uses. So, let us get started!

So, What Do Priest Wear Under Their Robes? There are different pieces of clothing that the priests wear under their robes. They include Cassock, Amice, Stole, Alb, Trouser and underwear. Wanna learn more, continue reading…


Cassock, also known as a soutane, is worn by Catholic priests and priests from other sister orthodox churches such as Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, baptist and Lutheran Churches.

In the Catholic Church, the colour of the cassock varies according to the rank of the wearer. The Pope wears plain white cassocks; Cardinals have theirs black with scarlet trim, bishops and Archbishops wear black cassocks with red trim while Reverend Fathers plain black.

The cassock has initially been an outdoor dress for priests but, with time, has been worn by priests under their liturgical robes (Alb and chasuble). The cassock is the first vestment that the priest put on after wearing his trouser and a round neck polo.

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Amice is worn on the cassock. It is a rectangular piece, usually white and wrapped around the neck and shoulder and tied to the waist. Although the use is optional today, it is mainly used by priests in temperate regions to prevent sweat from soaking into their bodies while celebrating liturgical functions.


The stole is worn by priests of various Christian denominations including Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, and others.

It is made of a band of coloured cloth made from silk, measuring about 7.5 to 9 feet in length and about three to four inches wide.

Both ends of this clothing may be straight or broadened out. To wear the stole, the priest placed the centre of the stole around the back of the neck such that both ends hang on each side of the priest in a parallel form.

The stole can be recognized by the presence of a cross or other religious insignia on the cloth, especially at the midpoint that the priest placed around his neck.


Alb is also worn by priests within the Catholic, Anglican, and some Lutherans denominations. It is long in length and long-sleeved. It is usually white or milk in colour and held to the waist by a cord or belt called a cincture. It is worn after wearing the cassock and the amice.


Yes, the priest also wears a pair of trousers under his robe. This is worn before putting on the first liturgical vestment, which is the cassock.


Of course, just like every other dress, a priest wears his underwear before wearing his liturgical wear. It is expected that a priest should wear a boxer and a singlet before putting on anything.

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What is ideal for a priest to wear under their robes?

This will depend on the denomination of the priest and his rank. To be ready for mass, a Catholic priest should put on the following articles of clothing: his underwear, trousers, and then cassock.

After putting these clothes on, he ties an amice (optional though) around his neck and wears another robe called the alb which is worn with a belt-like article known as a cincture. Next comes the Chasuble – this will be donned over everything else after putting scarves or stoles around their necks first!.

The Anglican priest also wears something similar with slight modification. They wear a surplice or alb-cassock after wearing their underwear and a pair of trousers.

They put on the stole and buckle it with the cincture before putting on one final robe, which is either a chasuble or dalmatic depending upon what type of service will be performed next.

Lutheran clerical clothing varies depending on locality and denomination. Lutheran priests in Scandinavia and Germany will often wear a pectoral cross with their cassock or clergy shirt; they mirror the Catholic cleric’s attire by wearing these formal clothes, primarily black.

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In British Methodist churches, a minister often wears business attire with a coloured shirt and clerical collar. In formal services, they will wear cassocks adorned by bands.

For very formal occasions such as Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph in London, traditional black Geneva preaching gown with an academic hood along with bands may be worn to mark the authenticity of ceremonies taking place there.

While there are no official rules on clerical clothing, United Methodist clergy often wear black or blue clerical shirts while bishops wear purple.

The church frequently dresses in this way when visiting hospitals and nursing facilities to help congregants feel more at ease. While the use of vestments by Methodists varies significantly between locations and situations, it is common for elders to don a black or blue shirt while bishops sport purples’ robes.

What can a priest not wear under their robes?

A priest should not wear the following under his robe.

  • A Suit: Due to the nature of the priest robe, a priest is not expected to put on a suit under this robe. This will make him appear weird and will probably elicit mockery and outrage from his congregation.
  • Female attires: A priest should not be seen putting on female attires such as skirts, blouses, and the rest. Crossdressing is something that orthodox Christian churches do frown upon, and a clergy going that route will attract much negative criticism.

What is the significance of the robes that priests wear under their robes?

Each of the clothes worn by a priest has some religious significance. Although the significants may vary slightly across different Christian denominations, there are many commonalities in all of them.

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The outermost layer of the vestment is often coloured green, violet, white/gold, or red. The symbolism behind this chasuble represents charity covering us in our daily lives; when we sin, there will always be forgiveness.


The priest’s stole is a long narrow strip of cloth worn around the neck. The colour can be changed depending on what day or season it currently is. It has enormous importance as it indicates the ordained status they are in for at specific days and seasons throughout their church service time, whether morning mass, evening mass, etc.


The Cincture is the belt that gathers the alb at your waist. It can be white, violet, or black, depending on what day it is and when you are mourning someone’s death.


The alb is a piece of clothing worn by priests during Mass and functions as a symbolic representation of the purity required to attend. It also symbolizes Christ’s garment at his crucifixion when he was dressed in it by Pilate, who later washed his hands clean of guilt.


The amice is worn under an alb to protect expensive embroidery work from getting ruined by sweat or other bodily fluids during ceremonies like weddings or funerals where there are tons of people around for hours at a time.

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Can a priest choose not to wear any clothing under their robes?

No, It is unthinkable to have a priest performing religious functions without wearing anything under his robe. Many of the members of his congregation will likely see the priest as having some mental issues.

The priest is a symbol of purity. Most people know the priest as the closest being to God. It will be very disappointing when a priest puts on just a robe with no proper underwear, trousers, and liturgical vestments.

What Do Priest Wear Under Their Robes – Conclusion

Priests are very important and revered members of society, especially in countries where religious activities form part and passel of their daily life.

One of the things that distinguish priests from other professions is their robes. Robes are a very important form of identity for priests. In this article, I have explained the different wear that priests wear under their robes.

I have also described their significance and provided more clarification on why there are used by the priest. So I will be glad to hear from you on the topic discussed.

Feel free to drop your suggestions and questions in the comment box, and it will be a pleasure to continue this conversation in the comment box.

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