Sunday, July 15, 2007

Why Wear A Stole?

After worship this morning, my research and development team (that’s my family!) was brainstorming ideas for a new line of stoles and vestments. The ideas ranged from the silly to the sublime. Pastor’s stoles with miniature sparkling LED lights, a stole with a flashing “applause now” sign, stoles remembering saints such as Mother Theresa, and stoles respecting the earth's resources because they were made out of recycled fibers were among the suggestions.

All this fun brainstorming may find you asking yourself why pastors even wear stoles. We’ve learned several stories. Stoles first might have originated as a practicality. It’s believed they were something upon which to wipe one’s hands after receiving the offerings of the people at a time in the early church when offerings of produce, other food stuffs and various animal products as well as financial offerings were given.

Secondly, in the 10th century, priests were commanded to wear stoles as a badge of their calling, especially when traveling. They may even have had little bells on the ends so people would know when they were approaching.

Lastly, we think symbolically of a stole as a yoke. This reminds us of Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and My burden in light”.

What do you think? Does any of this history of pastor's stoles or brainstorming of new ideas grab you? If you’d like to share any ideas send us an email or better yet share the idea when you enter to win the free "Mystery Stole" at Carrot Top Studio. Go to and follow the directions on the Specials link.


Pastor Eric said...

I came across someone selling denim stoles made out of old jeans. you can even submit your own jeans for some sentimental value. I thought that was a neat idea.

As for the purpose of the stole, the yoke of Christ is what I was always told and is what I cling to.

Mrs. M said...


I seriously want bells now.

Weekend Fisher said...

When I was at my nephew's bar mitzvah, I noticed that not only did the rabbi wear a stole, but so did most of the adult members of the congregation. I think the stole predates the apostolic age. said...

I think they may have been an outgrowth of garments to simply keep warm. Over time people used them symbolicly: to declare academic affiliation, academic rank, religous calling, and the like. Take a look at the various hats that academics wore in the Middle Ages and early modern period. Each hat signifies the institution or the degree or the academic position--or something similar. But they aren't any namby-pamby hats. The cover the entire head and must have kept men's heads warm, while the academically important stoles also kept their necks warm

Carrot Top Studio said...

What an interesting comment! I wouldn't be surprised at all if warmth didn't have something to do with it.