1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dalmatic

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DALMATIC (Lat. dalmatica, tunica dalmatica), a liturgical vestment of the Western Church, proper to deacons, as the tunicle (tunicella) is to subdeacons. Dalmatic and tunicle are now, however, practically identical in shape and size; though, strictly, the latter should be somewhat smaller and with narrower arms. In most countries, e.g. England, France, Spain and Germany, dalmatic and tunicle are now no longer tunics, but scapular-like cloaks, with an opening for the head to pass through and square lappets falling from the shoulder over the upper part of the arm; in Italy, on the other hand, though open up the side, they still have regular sleeves and are essentially tunics. The most characteristic ornament of the dalmatic and tunicle is the vertical stripes running from the shoulder to the lower hem, these being connected by a cross-band, the position of which differs in various countries (see figs. 3, 4). Less essential are the orphreys on the hem of the arms and the fringes along the slits at the sides and the lower hem. The tassels hanging from either shoulder at the back (see fig. 6), formerly very much favoured, have now largely gone out of use.

EB1911 - Dalmatic - Fig. 1—Deacon in dalmatic, apparelled amice and alb.jpg
Fig. 1.—Deacon in dalmatic, apparelled amice and alb.

The dalmatica, which originated—as its name implies—in Dalmatia, came into fashion in the Roman world in the 2nd century A.D. It was a loose tunic with very wide sleeves, and was worn over the tunica alba by the better class of citizens (see. fig. 2). According to the Liber pontificalis (ed. Duchesne, l. 171) the dalmatic was first introduced as a vestment in public worship by Pope Silvester I. (314–335), who ordered it to be worn by the deacons; but Braun (Liturg. Gewandung, p. 250) thinks that it was probably in use by the popes themselves so early as the 3rd century, since St Cyprian (d. 258) is mentioned as wearing it when he went to his death. If this be so, it was probably given to the Roman deacons to distinguish them from the other clergy and to mark their special relations to the pope. However this may be, the dalmatic remained for centuries the vestment distinctive of the pope and his deacons, and—according at least to the view held at Rome—could be worn by other clergy only by special concession of the pope. Thus Pope Symmachus (498–514) granted the right to wear it to the deacons of Bishop Caesarius of Arles; and so late as 757 Pope Stephen II. gave permission to Fulrad, abbot of St Denis, to be assisted by six deacons at mass, and these are empowered to wear “the robe of honour of the dalmatic.” How far, however, this rule was strictly observed, and what was the relation of the Roman dalmatic to the diaconal alba and subdiaconal tunica, which were in liturgical use in Gaul and Spain so early as the 6th century, are moot points (see Braun, p. 252). The dalmatic was in general use at the beginning of the 9th century, partly as a result of the Carolingian reforms, which established the Roman model in western Europe; but it continued to be granted by the popes to distinguished ecclesiastics not otherwise entitled to wear it, e.g. to abbots or to the cardinal priests of important cathedrals. So far as the records show, Pope John XIII. (965–972) was the first to bestow the right to wear the dalmatic on an abbot, and Pope Benedict VII. the first to grant it to a cardinal priest of a foreign cathedral (975). The present rule was firmly established by the 11th century. According to the actual use of the Roman Catholic Church dalmatic and tunicle are worn by deacon and subdeacon when assisting at High Mass, and at solemn processions and benedictions. They are, however, traditionally vestments symbolical of joy (the bishop in placing the dalmatic on the newly ordained deacon says:—“May the Lord clothe thee in the tunic of joy and the garment of rejoicing”), and they are therefore not worn during seasons of fasting and penitence or functions connected with these, the folded chasuble (paenula plicata) being substituted (see Chasuble). Dalmatic and tunicle are never worn by priests, as priests, but both are worn by bishops under the chasuble (never under the cope) and also by those prelates, not being bishops, to whom the pope has conceded the right to wear the episcopal vestments.

In England at the Reformation the dalmatic ultimately shared the fate of the chasuble and other mass vestments. It was, however, certainly one of the “ornaments of the minister” in the second year of Edward VI., the rubric in the office for Holy Communion directing the priest’s “helpers” to wear “albes with tunacles.” In many Anglican churches it has therefore been restored, as a result of the ritual revival of the 19th century, it being claimed that its use is obligatory under the “ornaments rubric” of the Book of Common Prayer (see Vestments).

In the Eastern churches the only vestment that has any true analogy with the dalmatic or liturgical upper tunic is the sakkos, the tunic worn by deacons and subdeacons over their everyday clothes being the equivalent of the Western alb (q.v.). The sakkos, which, as a liturgical vestment, first appears in the 12th century as peculiar to patriarchs, is now a scapular-like robe very similar to the modern dalmatic (see fig. 5). Its origin is almost certainly the richly embroidered dalmatic that formed part of the consular insignia, which under the name of sakkos became a robe of state special to the emperors. It is clear, then, that this vestment can only have been assumed with the emperor’s permission; and Braun suggests (p. 305) that its use was granted to the patriarchs, after the completion of the schism of East and West, in order “in some sort to give them the character, in outward appearance as well, of popes of the East.” Its use is confined to the Greek rite. In the Greek and Greek-Melchite

EB1911 Dalmatic - Fig. 2.—TUNIC OF LINEN.jpg
From the tombs at Akhmim. Egypto-Roman; 1st to 4th century. (In the Victoria and Albert Museum.)
EB1911 Dalmatic - Fig. 3.—BACK OF A DALMATIC.jpg
The two figures on the cross-band or apparel represent St. Gregory the Great and St. Augustine. The shields of arms are for the

dukes of Jülich and Berg, counts of Ravensberg, and for the electors of Bavaria. Said to have come from the church of St. Severin,

Cologne. German (Cologne); second half of 15th century. (In the Victoria and Albert Museum.)
EB1911 Dalmatic - Fig. 4.—DALMATIC OF WHITE SATIN.jpg
Spanish; early 17th century. (In the Victoria and Albert Museum.)
EB1911 Dalmatic - Fig. 5.—GREEK SAKKOS.jpg EB1911 Dalmatic - Fig. 6.—DALMATIC OF POPE PIUS V.jpg
It has the names and arms of two archbishops.
18th century. (In the Victoria and Albert Museum.)
An early example of the modern Roman type. Roman; 16th century.
Preserved at Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome. From a photograph taken by
Father J. Braun (in Die liturgische Gewandung), by permission of B. Herder.
churches it is confined to the patriarchs and metropolitans;

in the Russian, Ruthenian and Bulgarian churches it is worn by all bishops. Unlike the practice of the Latin church, it is not worn under, but has replaced the phelonion (chasuble).

A silk dalmatic forms one (the undermost) of the English coronation robes. Its use would seem to have been borrowed, not from the robes of the Eastern emperors, but from the church, and to symbolize with the other robes the quasi-sacerdotal character of the kingship (see Coronation). The magnificent so-called dalmatic of Charlemagne, preserved at Rome (see Embroidery), is really a Greek sakkos.

See Joseph Braun, S.J., Die liturgische Gewandung (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1907), pp. 247-305. For further references and illustrations see the article Vestments.  (W. A. P.)