February 3, 2019

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When he begins to vest, after having washed his hands, the priest or deacon places the amice over his head and then wraps it around the collar of his shirt or cassock. Religious whose habit incorporates a hood cover their head with it before placing the amice on top. Then both the hood and the amice are slid down after all the vestments have been donned. As he kisses the cross on the amice and first touches it to his head, he prays:

“Impone, Domine, capite meo galeam salutis, ad expungandos diabolicos incursus.”
“Lord, set the helmet of salvation on my head to fend off all the assaults of the devil.”

The prayer evokes several passages of Sacred Scripture:

He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in fury as a mantle.
Isaiah 59,17

Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6,13-17

But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
1Thesssalonians 5,8

Clerics of the Coptic Church wear a similar headcovering called a qalansuwa which remains on the head and under the crown throughout the Sacred Liturgy.

Pope Leo IV prescription in the year 850: “Let no one say Mass without the amice, alb, stole, maniple, and chasuble.” Attests that the amice had been in use already for quite some time.

The early 9th century liturgical writer Amalarius, at one time the Bishop of Trèves, associated another meaning with the amice since it guards the throat in a way. He wrote of it “I have placed a watch on my mouth… by this first vestment we are admonished to guard our mouths”. A prayer for the amice in the 16th century Missals of Cambrai reflect this sense: “Chastise, Lord, and govern my voice, so that I may commit no sin with my tongue, and that I may merit to speak only what is acceptable to you.”


Fr. Christopher J. Pollard

p.s. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb 13,8)