Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cope (Lat. cappa), a large outer cloak, at first an article of ordinary attire, but later adopted and retained as an ecclesiastical vestment worn by a priest or higher dignitary in processions and at solemn services other than the mass. But in the English Church its use by the celebrant at the eucharist was prescribed by the 24th Canon of 1603 in cathedrals and collegiate churches. The practice of wearing it prevailed till the end of the eighteenth century, and in accordance with recent decisions of the ecclesiastical courts its use has been revived, not without some heartburnings and warm expressions of feeling. The cope is semicircular in shape, the curved side forming the bottom and the neck of the wearer coming at the centre of the diameter. A clasp or other joining called a morse is sometimes employed to secure the cope. The material is often silk, and its embroidery and ornamentation have given scope for some of the most valuable examples of ecclesiastical art. The colour of the vestment varies with the season or with the occasion of its wearing. From the substantive is derived a verb meaning to cover as with a cope, and used chiefly in architecture as "coping," "coping-stone." Another verb, "to cope," is connected with the Dutch koop, trade, and signifies to bargain, whence the expression horse-coper, and the phrase to cope with in the sense of to oppose successfully, to be a match for.