An excerpt from the third book of the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum of William Durandus of Mende, Englished by T.H. Passmore:
1. After the Amice the Priest putteth on him a shift called the Albe; and this, being exactly fitted to all the limbs of the body, doth show that there must be nought of excess or looseness in the life of the Priest, or in his members. By its whiteness it doth represent purity; for it is written, LET THY GARMENTS BE ALWAYS WHITE; and it is made of byssus, or fine linen, for it is written that FINE LINEN IS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF SAINTS.
2. Now byssus is Egyptian linen. And even as linen, or byssus, doth win by cunning, being beaten with many blows, that whiteness which by nature it hath not; so also man's flesh, being lashed with many stripes in the exercise of good works, hath by grace that pureness allotted unto it which by nature it cannot have. The Priest therefore, according unto the Apostle, must BUFFET HIS BODY, AND BRING IT INTO SUBJECTION, LEST THAT BY ANY MEANS, WHEN HE HATH PREACHED TO OTHERS, HIMSELF SHOULD BE A CASTAWAY.
3. The Albe hath also a hood, the profession of chastity; and a lappet, signifying the Priestly tongue, which bindeth the froward, and looseth the penitent. Again, this Vestment, which in the ancient Priesthood was called a linen coat, and in Greek ??????, or the garment which reacheth unto the feet, is said of old to have been closely-fitting, which pointeth unto the Jews' SPIRIT OF BONDAGE TO FEAR. But in the new Priesthood it is ample, according to the spirit of adoption, in that LIBERTY WHEREWITH CHRIST HATH MADE US FREE. It hath also golden broidery and devices for ornament which with varied work in divers parts, which hinteth of that which the Prophet saith in the Psalms, UPON THY RIGHT HAND DID STAND THE QUEEN IN A VESTURE OF GOLD, WROUGHT ABOUT WITH DIVERS COLOURS.
4. The Albe is also drawn tight with a girdle, and this meaneth the strangling of all carnal pleasure, as the Lord saith, LET YOUR LOINS BE GIRT.
5. And the sleeves of the Albe, as also of the Tunicle, ought to be tight enow, not too loose, lest they slip away and leave the arms bare; and having apparels at the edges, representing the golden bracelets which by a miracle did enclose in seemly wise the bare arms of Saint Martin while he celebrated Mass. By the Albe also, which covereth the body from above downwards, is typified that hope which cometh unto the Church from above through grace, and through her own merits below. Of this the Apostle saith, WE ARE SAVED BY HOPE. And in that it reacheth unto the feet, it pointeth to perseverance, as was mentioned near the end of the Proeme of this Book.
6. But as touching that which agreeth unto Christ, Which is the Head, the Albe being a linen Vestment, and widely differing from the clokes made of the skins of dead animals, wherewith Adam was clad after his fall, doth picture that newness of life which Christ both had and taught, and doth give in Baptism unto us. And concerning this the Apostle saith, PUT OFF THE OLD MAN WITH HIS DEEDS, AND PUT ON THE NEW MAN, WHICH IS CREATED AFTER GOD. For in the Transfiguration HIS FACE DID SHINE AS THE SUN, AND HIS RAIMENT WAS WHITE AS SNOW; nay, the garments of Christ were ever white and clean, forasmuch as HE DID NO SIN, NEITHER WAS GUILE FOUND IN HIS MOUTH.
This Vestment representeth also the white robe, which Herod put on Christ to mock him.