“Lord, restore the stole of immortality, which I lost through the collusion of our first parents, and, unworthy as I am to approach your sacred mysteries, may I yet gain eternal life.”
(Vesting prayer while putting on the stole).
The stole is worn by priests around the neck and hanging evenly down at the front. The deacon’s stole is worn differently and is described on a separate sheet. Because it is the symbol of the authority of the person wearing it to teach and to administer the sacraments it is only worn by ordained ministers - bishops, priests and deacons. In fact, a priest is not allowed to celebrate the Mass unless wearing a stole. If he wears no other vestment, as when on a sick call to anoint someone, a priest will always wear a stole.
When worn across the shoulders it reminds the priest, who acts 'in persona Christi', in the person of Christ, of the Cross of Christ, of the yoke that Our Lord carried.
Its origins are lost in antiquity and there are many theories regarding its origin: the Jewish prayer mantle or a Roman neck cloth among them.