Sunday, December 17, 2006

Here it is! (1 of 4)

From “Costume of Prelates of the Catholic Church according to Roman Etiquette” by John Abel Nainfa:

Cappa Magna

1. Origin of the name

“Cappa Magna” literally means a large cope or cape. The word “Cappa” is a term of low Latinity, said to be derived from “capere” (quia capit totum hominem - “because it covers the whole person”), and was originally used by ecclesiastical writers to denote the pluviale or cope, as appears from Durandus and Honorius.

There is no English word translating “cappa”. The only proper word would be “cope” and, as a matter of fact, “cope” was derived from “cappa”; but since this word is reversed, in ecclesiastical terminology, for the liturgical vestment, which the rubrics call “pluviale”, it is necessary to have recourse to the foreign term “cappa”.

2. Description
The cappa magna is a large mantle with a long train. It is entirely closed, with the exception of a vertical opening about ten inches long over the breast, and complemented with a furred cape closed in front, slightly open at the back, and fastened at the back of the neck with a hook. To the cape a hood is attached, the use of which is determined by the ceremonial of bishops. When not in use, this hood is caught up on the right shoulder and fastened there by a row of buttons and silk loops.

Formerly, the entire garment was lined with fur in order to protect the wearer from the cold; about the thirteenth century, hoods assumed a cape form by being allowed to fall back over the shoulders, whereby the fur lining became outermost, and it may be stated as a general principle that whatever fur appears on a Prelate’s dress is supposed to be the winter lining. In the summer, therefore, when fur is not used, the portion of the Prelate’s dress, which in winter is adorned with fur, must show, instead of the fur, the regular summer lining of silk.

Such is the case for the cappa magna. Although, for several centuries, the body of this garment has had no lining, still the fur is supposed to be the winter lining of the cape; therefore the fur cape must be substituted, in summer, by a similar cape of silk of the same material and color as the lining of the mozzetta or mantelletta which the Prelate wears on festival days.

The outside of the cape, visible to the eye, being the lining (whether fur or silk), it follows that the other side, which is concealed, must be made of the same material and color as the body of the cappa magna.

Some tailors cut slits at the side of the cappa magna to pass the arms; but this should not be done; the cappa magna is an entirely closed garment with no other opening than the vertical slit in front. When the prelate stands or walks, he holds the fore part of the cappa lifted over his arms; when seated or kneeling, he lets it down and is thus entirely covered with the cappa (capit totum hominem); he may however pass his hands through the opening in front, if necessary. This, it musts be admitted, is not very convenient if the Prelate wishes to read his breviary; but a Prelate presiding over a ceremony is not supposed to read his private office.


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