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by Paul Turner

The cincture is a rope worn around the waist of a liturgical minister wearing an alb. (An alb is the long white vestment that covers the minister from neck to ankle.) The cincture functions like a belt. It is sometimes called a girdle, but because that word refers to another type of garment in English, it is rarely used. The cincture is not the same as the fascia, a wide belt worn over a cassock.

Any minister may wear a cincture in a Catholic service. This vesture is not limited to priests and deacons. Altar servers, for example, frequently wear one.

The cincture performs the practical function of gathering and shaping the loose-fitting alb, especially one that is long. A minister can raise the bottom half of a long alb and hold it in place with a cincture.

Traditionally the cincture is made of white linen or silk and has tassels or knots on either end. When the cincture is tied around the middle front, the two tassels dangle near both thighs. When tied with a slipknot to the side, the tassels may hang there together.

Formerly the minister recited a prayer for chastity while binding the alb with the cincture. As the cincture kept the alb in place, so the minister prayed that a strong will would keep temptations in place.

Not every minister wears a cincture. If the alb is made to fit, the cincture is optional. Some ministers change the color of the cincture to match the one expected by the seasons and feasts of the year. Some religious orders keep the cincture as part of their habit.

For additional bulletin insert resources, try Index of Bulletin Inserts

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Copyright © 2002, Resource Publications, Inc. 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. This article may not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.  For permission e-mail info@rpinet.com.
Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant' Anselmo University in Rome.

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