The gremiale, also called gremial, is an apron-like vestment worn by the bishop as part of the Catholic Mass or other sacred orders. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the current understanding of this vestment in this way:
A square or oblong cloth which the bishop, according to the “Cæremoniale” and “Pontificale”, should wear over his lap, when seated on the throne during the singing of the Kyrie, Gloria, and Credo by the choir, during the distribution of blessed candles, palms or ashes, and also during the anointments in connection with Holy orders. The gremiale is never used during pontifical Vespers. The primary object of the gremiale is to prevent the soiling of the other vestments, especially the chasuble. The gremiale used during the pontifical Mass is made of silk. It should be decorated by a cross in the centre, and trimmed with silk embroidery. Its colour must correspond with the colour of the chasuble. The gremiales used at other functions are made of linen, to facilitate their cleansing in case they be soiled. Little is known of its history; apparently its origin dates back to the later Middle Ages. The Roman Ordo of Gaetano Stefaneschi (c. 1311) mention it first (n. 48); soon after it is mentioned in the statutes of Grandison of Exeter (England) as early as 1339, In earlier times it was used not only any bishop but also by priests. It is not blessed and has no symbolical meaning.
This is an intriguing vestment, particularly since “little is known of its history.” So I did some research and found a bit more about it. [Read more…]