It has been maintained that the surplice was known in the 5th century, the evidence being the garments worn by the two clerics in attendance on Bishop Maximian represented in the mosaics of S.
It is sometimes also worn by clerics in minor orders, whose proper vestment is, however, the surplice - itself a modification of the alb (see Surplice).
The officiating priest wears a cope, or at least a surplice with a violet stole, the other priests and clergy wear surplices.
About the 6th century the long tunica alba went out of fashion in civil life, but it was retained in the services of the Church and developed into the various forms of the liturgical alb (q.v.) and surplice (q.v.).
The older history of the surplice is obscured by lack of exact information.
In general it is laid down (cap. i.) that the priest, in benedictions outside the Mass, shall be vested in surplice and stole, and shall give the blessing standing and bare-headed.
For a hundred years after the Elizabethan settlement the battle raged round the compulsory use of the surplice and square cap, both being objected to by the extreme Calvinists or Puritans.
In the Roman Catholic Church the rochet is a tunic of white, and usually fine linen or muslin (battiste, mull) reaching about to the knee, and distinguished from the surplice by the fact that its arms are narrow and tight-fitting.
New vestments were devised to take the place, on less solemn occasions, of those hallowed by association with the holy sacrifice; thus the processional cope (q.v.) appeared in the 11th century and the surplice (q.v.) in the 12th.
The people, thoroughly Protestant, were excited by the proofswhich they thought were afforded that the real object of the Tractarians was to reconcile England with Rome; and practices which are now regarded as venial or even praiseworthysuch as the wearing of the surplice in the pulpit, and the institution of the weekly offertorywere denounced because they were instituted by the Tracta.rians, and were regarded as insidious devices to lead the country ROmewards.