Mass Linens by Lynn Smith
The size of purificators are generally 12″ x 12″ with an embroidered center cross. Purificators are folded in thirds and placed over the chalice and under the paten. These small linens are the most frequently laundered of all the linens in liturgical use. Purificators are used to clean out the chalice and paten after communion. Purificators are washed preferably by hand in the Sacristry following the service.
The corporal is a large square linen usually 18″ x 18″, and is folded in thirds and placed underneath the chalice. The corporal is used to catch any crumbs from the host during consecration. Corporals are embroidered with one center front cross. The corporal is so named because the word comes from the Latin “corpus,” meaning body.
Credence linens are custom-made mass linens that cover the credence table, which holds the bread and wine before consecration. The credence table is used at the offertory. Credence linens are embroidered with one center cross.
The amice is worn as a neck cloth and is a rectangular linen with long ties, usually 60″ in length, and one embroidered cross. The amice dates back to the Gothic period. The amice is worn beneath the chasuble to protect the chasuble from any wear next to the skin. The amice mainly worn in the R.C. church and in some Anglo-Catholic churches.
Fair linens are custom-made mass linens that cover the main altar and are embroidered with five crosses, one in each corner of the mensa and a centered embroidery. The five crosses on the fair linen are meant to depict the five wounds of Christ. A fair linen usually includes a drop, which is completely at the discretion of the altar guild. Drops on a fair linen vary enormously, but a short drop ( 4″ or less ) on a fair linen is discouraged, as the drop is not sufficient to hang properly. Longer drops on fair linens are encouraged, as they are visually more pleasing. Fair linens often include a lace trim on the drop. Fair linens should be stored rolled when not in use. The fair linen represents the shroud in which Jesus was wrapped for burial.