This week we begin learning about the many items our Priests wear at every Mass. Along with each item we will also learn the spiritual purpose of each item worn.
The first thing our Priest puts on is the AMICE. This is a piece of white linen, rectangular in shape, with two long cloth ribbons.
The priest places it around his neck, covering the clerical collar, and then ties it by crisscrossing the ribbons in his front (to form a St. Andrew’s cross), bringing them around the back, around the waist and tying them in a bow.
The practical purpose of the AMICE is to conceal the normal clerical clothing of a priest, and to absorb any perspiration from the head and neck.
In the Graeco-Roman world, the AMICE was a head covering, oftentimes worn underneath the helmets of the Roman soldiers to absorb sweat, thereby preventing it from flowing into their eyes.
The spiritual purpose is to remind the priest of St. Paul’s admonition: “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
The former vesting prayer was “Place, O Lord, the helmet of salvation on my head to resist the attacks of the devil.”