Lace albs and fiddleback vestments

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: Recently I attended a Mass in a city distant from where I live and minister.   The aspects about the Mass that most struck me were prevalence of lace albs and the near absence of congregational singing. I have a question related to each of these:

1. The albs: is there anything about albs that are made of lace at their lower sleeves and below the waist that is objectively unacceptable to Liturgical principles and counter the renewal of the Liturgy from Vatican II?   I associate the style with a certain ecclesiology  and with a rejection of the council and our Liturgy.    But maybe it is just a matter of fashion and taste.    

2. I want to ask the same question with regard to fiddleback vestments.    How did it happen that these became rare in the wake of the 21st Ecumenical Council?    Is it just a question of taste and changing fashion?

3.    The archbishop “main concelebrant” at the Mass wore a vestment in addition to the chasuble and stole.   It looked like a dalmatic—but I did not see any sleeves.   What might that be? —-just wondering.


1. I know of no official guidance regarding lace. GIRM 336 gives some instructions about its length and how it covers the neck, but it is silent about lace. I think your second possible interpretation is better than your first: It’s more likely a matter of fashion and taste than a rejection of the council and liturgy.

2. The same with fiddlebacks. I’m not sure why they disappeared and why they reappeared, but the style did change after the council, and some of the preconciliar styles are more popular again with some priests. Again, I’d caution, that does not necessarily signal a rejection of the council. The council never forbade fiddlebacks or lace.

3. The archbishop probably wore a dalmatic under the chasuble. He may wear one.