Sudarium

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For the neck scarf worn by Roman military personnel, sometimes called a sudarium, see focale.

A sudarium (Latin) was a "sweat cloth", used for wiping the face clean. Small cloths of various sorts, for which sudarium is a general term, played a role in Ancient Roman formal manners and court ceremonial, and many such uses transferred to Christian liturgical usage and art. Different Greek terms are used in the Eastern Orthodox churches, but in the Roman Catholic and other Western churches, the term sudarium has been used for several textile objects:

  • The maniple, a cloth of fine quality to wipe away perspiration, or an ornamental handkerchief which was seldom put into actual use, but was generally carried in the hand as an ornament as was commonly done by people of rank in ordinary life, now formalized as a vestment.
  • The predecessor of the humeral veil
  • The predecessor of the vimpa, a veil or shawl worn over the shoulders of servers who carry the mitre and crosier in liturgical functions when they are not being used by the bishop
  • The cloth suspended from the crozier at the place where the bishop would grasp it, still depicted in ecclesiastical heraldry and used by Cistercian abbots. Also called pannisellus
  • The veil used by the subdeacon to hold the paten; a pall(a) or mappula, the forerunner of the chalice veil, the ends of which he threw over his right shoulder

Sudarium specifically refers to two relics of the Passion of Jesus, the Sudarium of Oviedo and the Veil of Veronica.

The sudarium may be related to the Sudra (סודרא) mentioned in the Talmud.

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