AskDefine | Define tunicle

User Contributed Dictionary



Latin tunicula diminutive of tunica ‘tunic’.


  • /'tju:nɪkəl/


  1. a small tunic
  2. a vestment worn by an archdeacon
    • 1845, In illustrating his views on the Popish tendency of these rubrics, the rev. gentleman particularly referred to the use of the alb, and cope, and tunicle, by the clergy in the discharge of their official duties. — The Times, 11 Jan 1845, p.5 col. D
  3. a tunica; a membrane or membranous sheath of skin

Extensive Definition

The tunicle is a liturgical vestment associated with Roman Catholic Latin Rite subdeacons, adopted also by Anglo-Catholics and High Church Anglicans.
For a description of the tunicle, see dalmatic, the vestment with which it became identical in form, although earlier editions of the Caeremoniale Episcoporum indicated that it should have narrower sleeves. Sometimes it was also distinguished by a single horizontal band on the front and back, as opposed to the double band of the dalmatic.
In Rome, subdeacons had begun to wear the tunicle by the sixth century, but Pope Gregory I made them return to the use of the chasuble. They began to use the tunicle again in the ninth century, a time when it was also worn by acolytes, a custom that was widespread until the late Middle Ages, and can still occasionally be found in some Anglican Churches for acolytes and crucifer. In some places outside of Rome subdeacons continued to wear the tunicle even between the sixth and the ninth centuries. The ceremony by which the bishop put a tunicle on a subdeacon whom he ordained began in the twelfth century, but did not become common until the fourteenth.
Roman deacons once wore the tunicle under the dalmatic, and the tunicle was part of the liturgical vestments of other dignataries also. In the twelfth century it became customary for bishops to wear both a tunicle and a dalmatic as part of their pontifical vestments. Previously they had worn one or the other. Earlier editions of the Caeremoniale Episcoporum made the wearing of both obligatory at Pontifical High Mass, but the present edition speaks only of the dalmatic.
tunicle in French: Tunique (liturgie)
tunicle in Italian: Tunicella
tunicle in Dutch: Tuniek
tunicle in Russian: Туника (облачение)
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