The amice is a liturgical
vestmentused mainly in the Roman Catholic Church, in some Anglican churches, and in the Armenian Church. It consists of a white cloth connected to two long ribbon-like attachments, by which it is fastened around the shoulders of the priest. Before the liturgical reforms of 1972, its use was mandatory for all Roman Catholic Masses, but it is only required today if the albdoes not cover the priest's ordinary clothing. Many priests choose to wear the amice for reasons of tradition or to prevent damage to their other vestments due to perspiration.
Certain mendicant Orders, such as the Dominicans and Franciscans, and some other orders with hooded habits, often donned the amice over the raised hood. The priest, or minister, then fastened the ribbons - crossed at the chest - behind his chest. The alb was donned over the hood/amice, and fastened. The hood/amice could then be retracted neatly around the collar.
In several Mediaeval uses, such as the
Sarum Rite, the amice bore a broad stiff band of brocade or other decoration, giving the impression of a high collar. These were called "apparelled amices". This practice was abandoned at Rome at about the end of the 15th century, but continued in other parts of Europe until much later. By 1907, however, the practice was no longer tolerated in Roman Catholic liturgy, but still exists within many Anglican communities.
Curiously enough, this collar-like amice spread to the Armenian Church, where is retained as a normal part of the priestly vestments among the
Armenian Orthodox, who call it "varkas".
While donning the amice, the priest first drapes the amice over his head (as with a hood), then lowers it to his neck, tying it around his torso. During this action he prays a short prayer asking God to clothe him with the "helmet of salvation".
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