The Subdiaconate is the first of the major orders. It is the decisive step in the life of a cleric in which he assumes the obligation of observing perfect chastity in the unmarried state and of reciting the Divine Office. The official duties of the subdeacon are to read the epistle, to hand the chalice and paten to the deacon during the Mass, to prepare the water for the chalice, and to wash the altar cloths and corporals. During the ceremony the newly ordained subdeacon touches a chalice and paten, a pair of cruets containing water and wine and a basin and towel.
He is then invested with the insignia of his office: the amice (symbolising moderation in speech), the maniple (fruit of good works), tunicle (joy) and then touches the epistalarium.