Why Is Bishop Clothing Purple (and Other Questions)

Bishop is a title bestowed upon distinguished members of the Christian clergy, which typically involves oversight or administration of a diocese or responsibility for conferring orders. Bishop is a title bestowed upon distinguished members of the Christian clergy, which typically involves oversight or administration of a diocese or responsibility for conferring orders. 

Bishops’ duties and habits vary according to denomination, but it is a title that exists in the Roman Catholic church, the Anglican Church, Eastern Orthodox, and several different Protestant denominations. 

For many, a bishop might be distinguished by his purple vestments, or by his specialized headwear and clerical accessories. This article will cover a few of these. 

What Do Bishops Wear?
As with other aspects of the office, what a bishop wears will vary according to the denomination in question. 

However, it is common for bishops to wear or carry the following.

● Miter: A tall, pointed, liturgical headdress.
● Zucchetto: A small silk cap sometimes worn in place of the miter; the Pope and cardinals wear zucchettos as well; a bishop’s is purple.
● Alb: A long, white linen tunic.
●A cassock and cincture: A heavy, floor-length garment that buttons down the front; purple for bishops. 
● Chasuble: An outer garment worn over the shoulders; similar to a mantle. 
● Mozzetta: A purple cape that reaches to the waist, occasionally worn over the cassock.
● Ferraiolo: A purple cape, similar to the mozzetta but longer. 
● A Crosier: Not a vestment; the crozier is a bishop’s staff, symbolizing his role as protector of the people. 
● Pectoral Cross and Episcopal Ring: Symbolizing a bishop’s calling. 

Many of these clerical vestments – bishop clothing – are often colored purple, but sometimes they are black or even another color.

Why Is Bishop Clothing Purple? 
Purple is already a color that is closely associated with the clergy – and not just with bishops. Most of the time, the color purple is worn as a color of penance or mourning. It is commonly worn during Lent, for example, to symbolize penance and sacrifice. 

However, it is probable that the bishop’s clothing is purple for a different reason. First of all, the color worn by bishops is more of a magenta than a true purple. 

Also, the reason that bishop clothing is purple probably has more to do with the historical connotations of the color purple than it has to do with penance. 

In traditional antiquity, a special purple color was produced by the Phoenician people. The Phoenicians gathered small sea snails and extracted a special dye from a gland on the snail. It took an enormous amount of these snails to produce even a little bit of dye, but the dye produced a rich, deep, vibrant purple color. 

This color has become known as “royal purple,” because originally it was so expensive to produce, and so rare, that only royals could afford it. 

It is possible if not likely that bishops began to wear purple because the color was associated with royalty and as senior officers within the church, they were expected to put forward that front. 

Do Bishops Always Wear Purple?
While the color purple is associated with bishops and bishop clothing, it’s equally important to note that bishops don’t always wear purple vestments. 

Churches publish their own guidelines for what bishops should wear – as well as other ranks of the clergy. For instance, the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) has published the following guidelines for its bishops.

Jurisdictional bishops under COGIC are expected to wear purple cassocks, cinctures, chimeres, shirts, tippets, and of course, a white rochet, so they’re more or less arrayed head to toe in purple. For auxiliary bishops, COGIC prescribes a black cassock and tippet (a white rochet) and either a black or purple cincture, chimere, and shirt, so they don’t wear quite as much purple. 

Where Can You Find High-Quality Bishop Clothing?
If you’re looking for COGIC-approved, official liturgical vestments and other clergy attire, visit Divinity Clergy Wear online at DivinityClergyWear.com. They carry a wide range of bishop’s clothing and many other high-quality clerical accessories.
Check out their website via the link above or get in touch with them at 877-453-3535. 

For more information about clergy wear and womens clergy robes Please visit:  Divinity Clergy Wear.

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