Page 5, 29th April 1977

29th April 1977
Page 5
Page 5, 29th April 1977 — Roman collars and white cravats
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Roman collars and white cravats

If 1 may have a try at answering the query of your correspondent (April 24) concerning the origin of the Roman collar.

It would seem that the original problem was what to do about the shirt collar at the neck of the cassock. Back in the 17th century, the collar was a starched linen one of the kind worn today by Redemptorists and Oratorians, with a double-breasted cassock.

The change-over to the singlebreasted version with the gap in the neck-band at the front caused various solutions; in France it became the 'rahar int p.c.ures of the Cure d'Ars, in England, a high cravat, and in 18th century Rome, a new idea worn completely inside the collar band: the Roman collar.

The wearing of the Roman collar when not in a cassock also became common in early 19th century Roman 'abito privato'; and was probably introduced to this country by alumni of the Venerable English College. The general wearing or the collar in this country was largely brought about by the energetic legislation of Cardinal Manning, up to whose time, most of the English clergy had worn a black suit with cravat.

The early Anglo-Catholic clergy imitated the style, and slowly it filtered through the Church of England, though the older towchurch clergy still wore a white tie in the early years of this century.

In this century the Roman collar has also found its way into the collar bands of most of the Eastern clergy, but the Russians continue to avoid this Papalising innovation!

The Hiberno-American tradition of wearing a stock with a band into which the collar fits, is probably in order to make the collar look more like that of a cassock, The end is nigh for the Roman collar, in many places it has ceased to be a collar altogether, and inserted as a little piece of plastic into a soft shirt, has descended from its high task of assuring its wearer's comfort to a functional badge. Perhaps we should imitate the German clergy who wear a white shirt collar over a black stock or shirt — a return to the sources? Rev G. W. Woolfenden STB Liverpool In reply to Ir J. McMahon (April 22) regarding the origin and history oldie Roman collar.

Before around the mid-19th century clerics of all denominations in this country, when they did not opt for purely secular dress as such, usually wore a white neckcloth similar to that worn by the Rev Patrick Bronte, Vicar of Haworth. A photograph of Bishop Joseph Hendren. OSF, first Bishop of Nottingham, 1851-1853, already shows him wearing the Roman collar familar to us all.

Why did the . universal change take place, and why the particular

concentration on this item of ecclesiastical neckwear? I think it may have been the result of a social pattern.

have just finished reading "The Handle and the Axe" by J. C. H. Aveling, which is a history of English Catholic recusants from the Reformation to Emancipation. It is stated there that there was a great influx of French refugee clergy following the Revolution. who had a sympathetic welcome.

Public gaze would be on soutanes and neck-tabs. This almost coincides with what Mr Aveling terms, "the victory over the laity' by the imminent restoration of the hierarchy, when white neck-cloths soon gave way to the more stiffened collar, the Roman collar.

An aide-menwire for Patrick O'Donovan. It was Pope Leo X who "enjoyed the Papacy". James Goldsbury Radcliffe on Trent, Nottingham.




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