From Academic Kids

The cassock, an item of clerical clothing, is a long, sheath-like, close-fitting, ankle-length robe worn by clergy members of some Christian denominations. The cassock derives ultimately from the tunic that was formerly worn underneath the toga in classical antiquity.

The word cassock probably comes from the word "casaque" which means cloak; or cassaca, which means white. In older days, it was known in Latin as vestis talaris.

Although the cassock was formerly the universal everyday clothing of the clergy, many have abandoned it as in favour of a clerical suit of more conventional design. In current usage, wearing of the cassock can sometimes be a mark of traditionalism; its abandonment, a rejection thereof.

Western Practice (Roman and Anglican)

The cassock, also known as a soutane, comes in a number of styles, though no particular symbolism attaches to these. A Roman cassock has thirty-three buttons down the front; a French cassock has fewer front buttons, but buttons sewn to the sleeves after the manner of a suit, and a broader skirt. A Jesuit cassock has a fly fastened with hooks. An Anglican cassock is double breasted and fastens at the shoulders on the opposing side of the breast.

Ordinary Cassocks generally come in black, but for clerics of higher ranking, colored piping and a fascia are added: in the cases of Bishops, the piping and fascia are purple; in Cardinals, red.

Cassocks for Choir Dress for bishops are fully purple, with the purple fascia, while those of Cardinals are fully red, with red fascia.

Cassocks are frequently confused with the simar, but there is a distinction in that the simar has the small shoulder cape without buttons that does not fasten in the front.

Cassocks are sometimes worn by lay people when they are assisting with the liturgy in church.They are also worn by altar servers, and by religious who are not priests, (e.g religious brothers,seminarians, lay preachers).

Eastern Practice (Orthodox)

In Orthodoxy, there are two types of cassock: the Inner Cassock and the Outer Cassock or Ryasa. Monastics always wear a black cassock, while non-monastics can also wear blue, grey, or white (especially at Pascha).

  • The Inner Cassock (more commonly, simply Cassock) is a floor length garment, usually black, worn by all clergy members, monastics, and male seminarians. The Russian version, called a Podryasnik (Russian: подрясник), is double-breasted, closely fitted through the torso and flaring out to the skirt, and with a high collar buttoned off-center [1] ( The Greek version, called an Anteri or Rason, is somewhat fuller, gathered at the waist with a cord, and with a high collar buttoned in the front [2] ( The inner cassock is usually worn by all clergy members under their liturgical vestments.
  • The Outer Cassock also called a Ryasa, Riassa (Russian: ряса), or Exorason is a large, flowing garment worn over the inner cassock by bishops, priests, deacons, and monastics [3] ( It is not worn by seminarians, readers or subdeacons.
  • A Cassock Vest is sometimes worn over the Inner Cassock in cooler weather, especially in the Russian tradition. This is a closely fitted collarless vest with patch pockets, usually falling slightly below the waist [4] (

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