Amice (2)

Amice (amictus, an outer garment), a square-shaped linen cloth worn by ecclesiastics when they put on the alb (q.v.). Walafrid Strabo, a pupil of Pabanus, enumerates the eight vestments of the Church, without including in them the amice. But in all the later liturgical writers the vestment is referred to by some one or other of its various designations (De Rebus Eccles. c. 24). There is no evidence of its use in England till nearly the close of the Saxon period. It is not mentioned in the Pontifical of Egbert (see Rock, Church of Our Fathers, 1, 465).

1. Shape of the Amice, its Material and Ornamentation. — The amice was originally a square or oblong piece of linen, and was probably worn (Fig. 1) so as to cover the neck and shoulders. Early in the 10th century (A.D. 925) we hear for the first time of ornaments of gold on the amice (Migne, Patrol. 132, 468). From the 11th century onwards the richer amices were adorned with embroidery, and at times even with precious stones. These ornaments were attached to a portion only of the amice, a comparatively small patch, known as a plaga, or parura (Fig. 4), being fastened on so as to appear as a kind of collar above the alb (Fig. 3). An example is given of late date to show the shape of the parura, as, from the nature of the material, very early amices are not extant.

2. How Worn. — All the earlier notices of the amice are such as to imply that it was worn on the neck and shoulders only. Honorius of Autun (writing cir. A.D. 1125) is the first who speaks of it as being placed on the head (Fig. 2) till the other vestments were arranged, after which it was turned down so that the parura might appear in its proper place. To this position on the head is to be referred its later symbolism as a helmet of salvation.

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