Surplice

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The surplice is a liturgical vestment used by the the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran churches of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and in the Anglican Communion. The Orthodox Church does not use a surplice or any analogous garment.

The surplice has the form of a tunic of white linen or cotton material, with wide or moderately wide sleeves, reaching — according to the Roman use — barely to the hips and elsewhere in the Church of Rome to the knee. It usually features lace decoration, but in modern times — in Germany at least — it may also have embroidered borders.

The surplice descended from the Greek alb, which it replaced in the North before Rome's schism from Orthodoxy. Eventually it was adopted elsewhere in the West. In recent years, the alb has been introduced in the West.


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