One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any piece of cloth used in a church or a church service, such as an altar cloth, purificator, corporal, etc.; (as a mass noun) fabric used for such items.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in James Shirley (bap. 1596, d. 1666), playwright and poet. From church + cloth.
church cloth/ˈtʃəːtʃ klɒθ/
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