- Latin: a garment
A vestment of white linen, reaching to a little below the hips, having wide sleeves, often ornamented with lace. It is worn over the cassock by clerics and altar boys at many sacred functions, signifying the purity of heart becoming God’s ministers. The name surplice (Latin: superpeliceum; super, over; pelliceum, fur clothing) indicates its origin. It was formerly a linen gown worn over fur clothing by ecclesiastics while chanting the divine office in cold weather.