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Saint Stephen , altar panel by Hans Memling (around 1480)
Western dalmatic in a baroque design, floral brocade set with a wavy border

The dalmatic (from Latin dalmaticus , dalmat (in) isch '; Latin vestis dalmatica " garment originating from Dalmatia ") is a liturgical garment of the churches and the official clothing of the deacon . The bishop can wear them under the chasuble on festive occasions .


The dalmatic owes its name to its origin. In the 2nd century it was introduced from Dalmatia and worn by the noble society in Rome as a profane outer garment. The white dalmatic was adorned with two parallel, red vertical stripes, the so-called clavi . This jewelry was also found on the wide-cut sleeves. These tunics were mostly made of linen or Dalmatian wool .

From the 4th century the dalmatic in was the West as a garment of the deacon in use. The originally white robe has been included in the liturgical color canon since the 12th century . The dalmatic was then made from valuable fabrics. Over time, their appearance continued to change. It became shorter and shorter since the late Middle Ages ; this reached its climax in the baroque period . The dalmatic was often cut only to the knee. The church vestments were splendidly embroidered at that time and therefore the fabric was correspondingly stiff. To make it easier to put on, the sides and sleeves were slit and the sleeves were only indicated by short fabric attachments.

The dalmatic was originally white, adapted to the liturgical color canon in the late Middle Ages and was always based on the color of the chasuble of the celebrating priest. The white paraments were considered to be festive robes, so that subdeacons and deacons on days of repentance, during Advent and Lent, did not wear tunicella and dalmatic, but rather a dark-colored chasuble in cathedral churches, and the alb without an upper garment on smaller churches . It became a custom for them to wear the chasuble as a planeta plicata , rolled up or tied up in front. From the Gospel until after Communion of Holy Mass, the deacon took off the Planeta plicata, folded it and put it around himself in the shape of a sash.


The dalmatic is presented to the deacon by the bishop when he is ordained . During Holy Mass, the deacon wears a dalmatic in the respective liturgical color over the alb and stole , also during special services such as during Easter Vigil , at church consecration or during Eucharistic processions . In other church services, the deacon does not wear dalmatic, but rather alb or choir shirt with stole in the usual way for deacons, diagonally across the chest and back; over it he can wear a cope in the liturgical color . A modified form of dalmatic can be found in the Byzantine Eastern Churches with the episcopal jacket worn in place of the Phelonion in more recent times .

Pontifical dalmatics

A special form is the western pontifical dalmatics belonging to the pontificals , which is made of a thin material. The pope wore around since the 8th century in the Pontifical all liturgical vestments of higher orders - tunicle , dalmatic and chasuble over each other to symbolize the authority of the Office -; so did the bishops from the 12th century. Through the liturgical reform after the Second Vatican Council was the elimination of the Subdiakonats the tunicle abolished as a garment; the dalmatic, however, is still mostly common.

The cardinal deacons assisting the Pope (currently de facto bishops) used to wear not chasuble at masses, but dalmatic and stole. Pope Benedict XVI has resumed this custom.

Orthodox Deacon.jpg
Dalmatic Diacon 20070517.JPG

Orthodox deacon in Byzantine dalmatic, Bethlehem, contemporary
Catholic deacon in dalmatic older style
Catholic deacon in contemporary style dalmatic


  • Joseph Braun : The Liturgical Paraments in the Present and Past. Reprographical reprint of the second, improved edition, Verlag nova & vetera, Bonn 2005, ISBN 3-936741-07-7 , pp. 89-100 (1st edition: 1911, 2nd edition: 1924).
  • Emil Joseph Lengeling : The new order of the Eucharistic celebration. General introduction to the Roman Missal (= Living Worship Service. H. 17/18). 4th, unchanged edition. Regensberg, Münster 1972, ISBN 3-7923-0347-7 .
  • German Bishops' Conference (Ed.): Ceremonials for the bishops in the Catholic dioceses of the German-speaking area. Herder et al., Freiburg (Breisgau) et al. 2003, ISBN 3-451-26734-9 .

Web links

Commons : Dalmatik  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Dalmatik  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Joseph Braun: The liturgical garb in the Occident and Orient: According to origin and development, use and symbolism. 2nd, improved edition. Herder, Freiburg (Breisgau) 1924 (reprographic reprint. Verlag Nova and Vetera) Bonn 2005, pp. 96f., 103.
  2. Ibid. P. 92f.