We’ve received a lot of questions about the unique cassocks our college seminarians are wearing. Historically it was common for seminaries to have their own distinctive style of cassock in style and color, known as the ‘house cassock’ which identified the particular seminary to which a seminarian belonged (akin to how distinctive religious habits identify different religious orders) and was the common everyday ‘uniform’ until the men were ordained to the transitional diaconate.
Here is the explanation of St. Joseph College Seminary’s house cassock from the rector, Fr. Matthew Kauth:
Our house cassock is a form of livery as seen in prior days. It was not the custom for a young man to enter a seminary and immediately begin to wear the Roman collar distinctive of a clerical state. Nevertheless, a common uniform that is distinctive from “civilian” clothing is helpful in growing in the identity of a cleric. Thus the house cassock was designed after the pattern of house cassocks of former days but employing our colors as seen in our shield.
The type of collar is unique to St. Joseph Seminary as it has three red diagonal lines on the right and left. These red cords are then drawn together by a seventh which continues wrapping down the right side. These are symbolic of the virtues which clothe a new man in Christ, namely justice, prudence, fortitude, temperance, faith and hope, with charity as the form of the virtues which draws them all together and gives them their end, namely, friendship with God. Finally, the fascia or sash is worn as a traditional sign of having one’s passions girded by the aforementioned virtues.