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Stoles for festivals are generally ornamented with embroidery, especially what are called vesper stoles".
The stole is worn only by deacons, priests, and bishops.
It was customary, even in the ninth century, to ornament the ends with fringe, tassels, or little bells.
Towards the thirteenth century the ends came to be trapezium-shaped; in the fourteenth century this shape disappeared, and until the sixteenth century the stole was a strip of material of uniform width, and only ornamented with fringe at the ends.
The stole is worn by a bishop in the same manner as a priest, except that it is never crossed on the breast, as a bishop wears the pectoral cross.
As a mark of order the stole is used in a special ceremony, at the ordination of deacons and priests.
Deacons wear the stole like a sash, the vestment resting on the left shoulder and thence passing across the breast and back to the right side.
In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the stole was very long, and at the same time extremely narrow.
Various hypotheses have been suggested concerning the origin of the stole.
The theory formerly universally held, but quite wrong, that it originated in the ornamental trimming of a garment called "stole", which in the course of time disappeared leaving behind only this trimming, has been abandoned.
The stole is first mentioned in the West in the sixth and seventh centuries (Synod of Braga, 563; Fourth Council of Toledo, 633; Gallican explanation of the Mass), but then as a thing which had long been in use.
The earliest evidences of the use of the stole at Rome date from the second half of the eighth century and the beginning of the ninth.