From many notices it is known that embroidery was used to ornament vestments for Christian worship even in early times.
No specimen has been preserved earlier than the 10th century.
Up to the 13th century gold thread embroidery was the prevalent form of decoration.
The fullest development was reached in this and the two succeeding centuries.
Figure embroidery was most used and the work materials were thread of gold, silver, and silk, spangles of silver, precious stones, etc.
In the 11th and 12th centuries Sicily was famous, in the 13th and 14th, England, France, Italy, and Germany also produced splendid work.
At the close of the Middle Ages raised embroidery was substituted for the flat stitch and the art degenerated.
With the influence of secular embroidery purely ornamental designs were used and pictorial needlework was abandoned.
The art does not differ from secular embroidery and no regulations have been made as to material, color, or design of ecclesiastical vestments.
New Catholic Dictionary