Priests began wearing the standard cassock about three or four hundred years before the iconic collar. In the interim, collars changed according to the times.
Then, in 1624, the Church concluded that the time had come for clerical garb to have stricter guidelines.
Why 1624? Well, collars had grown into major fashion statements by that time. No matter how plain or embellished the rest of the garb, the collar was the crown of it all. Linen was the most common material, but the high class could display impressive, filigree collars of lace. The fancier the collar, the wealthier the owner!
The Church, however, wished both the clergy and laity to always remember what a priest is: Christ’s representative on earth, who is consecrated to God, and who embraces material poverty as did Our Lord. For a priest to wear collars of expensive materials was incongruous with this aspect of his calling. So Pope Urban VIII forbade ornamentation or lace and the Church regulated the fashionable collars to simple ones.
Today, we are familiar with the most common form of this simple collar: the “Roman collar,” with its simple white square.
Want to get a gift for your parish priest that will serve him well? Get him this one-of-a-kind Personalized Priest Tumbler that he’ll always recognize as his own! Designed to keep his chosen beverage icy cold or piping hot, this black tumbler features a clerical collar motif. Pick it up today at The Catholic Company!