The clergy stole is simply a long scarf of cloth or satin, worn across the shoulder, with both ends hanging in the front, across the chest. It’s not known exactly where the origins of the stole originate, but some believe it traces back to ancient Rome. Stoles were first worn in the 4th century by deacons in some Orthodox churches. The original term for these stols was “orarium” or “orariun”. The term “stola” in Latin first was used in the 9th century.
Today, stoles are worn by church clergy in some denominations worldwide, and they differ slightly from the older fashions of stole, worn in classical and medieval times. Modern stoles are typically composed of silk, and are between 2-4 inches wide. They can be up to 8 feet long, though this depends on the type of stole, denomination, and the height of the member of the clergy wearing the stole.
Traditionally, stoles for clergy are the same color as the major vestments being worn for the occasion. However, some Protestant clergy use non-traditional colors and symbols that do not conform to Roman Catholic traditions.
In the Roman Catholic Church, the stole is a symbol of immortality, and it’s worn differently, depending on the member of the clergy. Deacons wear the stole over their left shoulder, with the ends joining underneath the right arm. In contrast, priests and bishops wear the stole across the neck with both ends hanging vertically. If an alb is worn, the priest will cross the ends of the stole in front of them. A stole can only be worn by an ordained member of the clergy. As such, it is typically conferred upon ordination in the Catholic church.
We offer a huge variety of stoles for pastors, deacons, priests, bishops and other members of the clergy, which can be worn with other vestments like albs, cassocks and surplices. With fast shipping, great prices and dozens of colors available, we’re an ideal source for clergy stoles.