Mantle (vesture) - Monastics


The monastic mantle is worn by Orthodox Christian monks and nuns of the Lesser Schema and Great Schema. In the Greek practice the use of the mantle by those of the Lesser Schema is less common. (It is not worn by Rassaphores). The mantle worn by a simple monk or nun is black (black being the traditional monastic color, symbolizing mourning over one's sins and a reminder of the vow of poverty), joined at the neck and hanging down to the feet. In the Russian tradition, the mantle is usually pleated (33 pleats for the number of years in the earthly life of Jesus). It may or may not have a train. Over the centuries, much symbolic meaning has come to be attributed to the mantle:

" mantle is a monastic vestment, which covers the whole person with the exception of the head. Its freely flowing lines typify the wings of the Angels; hence it is called "the Angelic vestment." The folds of the Mantle are symbolical of the all-embracing power of God; and also of the strictness, piety and meekness of the monastic life; and that the hands and other members of a monk do not live, and are not fitted for worldly activity, but are all dead."

" is called 'the garment of incorruption and purity', and the absence of sleeves is to remind the monk that he is debarred from worldly pursuits. The mantle is given him in token of the 'exalted angelic state' which he assumes"

The mantle is bestowed upon a monk when he becomes as Stavrophore (Lesser Schema), for which reason this rank of monk is sometimes referred to as a "mantle monk". The mantle is bestowed a second time if he becomes a Schemamonk (Greater Schema).

An Hegumen (Abbot) or Hegumenia (Abbess) wears the simple monastic mantle.

When an Orthodox monk or nun dies, they are vested in their religious habit. A strip of cloth is torn from the bottom of their mantle and is used to bind their body three times: around the chest, around the waist, and around the feet.

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