Sacred Vestment - The Alb

The Alb, so called from its white color—albus  meaning white, is "an ample, loosely-fitting garment of pure linen, entirely enveloping the body, and fastened at the neck by means of strings.

The use of a vestment of this kind is of the highest antiquity, for we find it employed by all nations in their religious services. It is the same as the linen garment ordered to be worn by the priests of the Old Law (Exod. 28; Levit. 8) King David wore a linen Alb when translating the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Obededom to Jerusalem (1 Paral. 15:27)."

"Figurative Signification of the Alb.—According to Pope Innocent III. (De Sacr. Altaris Mysterio, 57), the Alb, from the purity of its color, denotes newness of life, and reminds us of St. Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians, chap. 4: “Put off the old man with all his acts, and clothe yourselves with the new man, who, according to God, is created in justice and holiness of truth.” This beautiful idea of a new life, as signified by the Alb, is very forcibly presented to us in Holy Baptism, where the newly-regenerated receives a white garment with these significant words: “Receive this white and spotless garment which you are to bear before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may possess eternal life. Amen.”

Priests of the Latin Church put on the Alb with the prayer: “Purify me, O Lord! and make me clean of heart, that, washed in the Blood of the Lamb, I may possess eternal joy.” 

(All of the citations above are from - O’Brien, J., 1881. A History of the Mass and Its Ceremonies in the Eastern and Western Church

Since our priests are ʻIn persona Christiʻ there is also a pious tradition that ties the all the priestly vestments (which are put on right prior to the offering of Mass) to the Passion and Death of Christ.  This tradition traces the Alb specifically back to Luke 23:11 wherein Jesus is clothed with a white garment:  "And Herod with his army set him at nought and mocked him, putting on him a white garment: and sent him back to Pilate." 

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