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Cassock with collar and cingulum
Franz-Josef Overbeck with a black cassock and pellegrina

Soutane (derived from the French sous for "under") is an ankle-length and waisted upper garment with narrow sleeves of a Catholic , Coptic or Anglican clergyman . The knee-length garment, on the other hand, is called soutanelle .


The ankle-length, black robe has been worn by priests for a long time. The name originated in Italy in the middle of the 16th century, where the garment was called Sottana . A specialization of the cassock as work clothing for judges, lawyers and doctors took place in the 17th century. Later, the typical clothing was differentiated between the individual professional groups and legal and university salars and so on were created.

Until the end of the 20th century, the cassock was common as everyday clothing for a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in Europe. Depending on the occasion and the hierarchical level of the clergyman, different colors and sometimes different shapes are used in the church. For example, an Apostolic Protonotary wears a cloak-like wrap the length of a choir skirt over the cassock. The seminarians at the Germanicum in Rome were traditionally generally recognizable by their red robes.

The cassock lost its importance as everyday clothing in the 20th century, especially in Germany. Young clergymen and seminarians are wearing cassocks again more often in everyday life. In other European countries (for example in Poland) the cassock is still the usual clothing of Catholic priests.


Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in the abito piano without shoulder collar
Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri in a scarlet cassock

In contrast to the gown, the cassock is tailored to the waist and closes with 33 buttons. In most cases it is made of black fabric, but white fabric is also used in warmer countries. A black, purple or red cingulum is worn with the cassock, depending on the rank . Almost without exception, the cassock is worn by the clergy , but seminarians of the seminaries, various Catholic order members ( Pallottines , German orders ) who do not have to belong to the clergy also wear the cassock.

Occasionally a cassock is also referred to as a gown; However, gown and cassock are two different items of clothing. The gown is cut wider, has only one fold on the back and can also be sleeveless; it is carried by the liturgical services .

The cassock belongs to the abito piano ( it. , 'Pianic suit'), the Pope Pius IX. In 1851 in the decree firm permanent as the everyday costume of the clergy prescribed. On certain occasions, the pellegrina , a wide shoulder collar , is worn with a cassock .

When putting on the cassock, the cleric says the following dressing prayer from Psalm Ps 16.5  EU according to the Vulgate : Dominus pars haereditatis meae et calicis mei; do it, qui restitues haeredìtatem meam mihi ("The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup. It is you who will restore my inheritance to me.")


In the Vatican Instructio Ut sive sollicite of March 31, 1969 on the clothing, titles and insignia of cardinals, bishops and minor prelates , the following colors were specified:

  • Chaplain of His Holiness : black cassock with purple buttons and buttonholes and purple cingulate
  • Honorary Prelate of His Holiness and Apostolic Protonotary : black or purple cassock with ruby-red buttons and buttonholes and purple cingulate
  • Bishops: black or purple cassock with ruby ​​red buttons and buttonholes, purple cingulum and shoulder collar (not to be confused with the Mozetta , the shoulder collar belonging to the choir's clothing ); in tropical countries, such as Ghana, white cassock with ruby-red buttons and purple cingulate as well as shoulder collars
  • Cardinals: black or red cassock with light red buttons and buttonholes as well as light red cingulate and shoulder collar.

The cassocks of the priests in the Diocese of Würzburg are a specialty . They are allowed to wear purple fabric on the inside front part of the sleeves and on the inside of a button placket placed over the cassock buttons. This privilege has its origins in a dispute over the elevation to the archbishopric in 1818. The Würzburg authorities and the clergy were so annoyed that the older diocese of Würzburg was not elevated to an archbishopric, but the younger diocese of Bamberg , that it became part of the Würzburg clergy this ornament granted.


  • Martha Bringemeier: priestly and scholarly clothing . Tunic - cassock - scabbard - gown. A contribution to an intellectual historical costume research . Münster 1974 ( full text as PDF ).

Web links

Commons : cassock  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: cassock  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. The Brockhaus in ten volumes. Volume 9, Verlag FA Brockhaus, Leipzig & Mannheim, ISBN 3-7653-2459-0 , p. 5891; General German real encyclopedia for the educated classes. Conversations lexicon in fifteen volumes. Volume 14, FA Brockhaus, Leipzig 1853, p. 261.
  2. History of the cassock on (French)
  3. a b c cassock on ( memento of the original from December 10, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. cassock on priestly vestments in
  5. ^ Maurizio Bettoja: Clerical Dress in the City of Rome in the 19th Century. In: New Liturgical Movement , September 9, 2010.
  6. Text excerpt from Theologische Realenzyklopädie ; edited by Gerhard Müller. De Gruyter study book, year 2000. ISBN 3-11-016295-4 . on