STOLE. From the Greek word στολή (stolē =garment originally array or equipement) the stole is a long strip of cloth that varies in color according to the liturgical season or the feast celebrated. The ordained ministers wear it over the alb. Bishops and priests put it around the neck with the two ends coming down in front; the deacon, instead, wears it transversely from the left shoulder to the right side. GIRM no. 340 states: “The stole is worn by the priest around his neck and hanging down in front. It is worn by the deacon over his left shoulder and drawn diagonally across the chest to the right side, where it is fastened”.
In ancient times the stole was called orarium (from the Latinos-oris= mouth) mappa (=napkin, face-cloth) or sudarium and was a cloth that the orators wore around their necks to dry and wipe sweat during the oratory disputes. Later it became the proper liturgical vestment of the ordained ministers: bishops, priests and deacons. Saint John Chrysostom states that deacons wear the orarium on the left shoulder and the movement made in the act of wearing it is compared to the wings of angels. The rite of ordination to the diaconate includes the putting on of the stole and the dalmatic. While in the ordination of priests there is the rite of investiture with stole and chasuble (cf. Ordination of Bishops, priests and deacons, nos. 178. 231).