Thursday, 23 April 2015

God's wind blew and they were scattered

Readers and enquirers please note :

The Studio is closed for correspondence during the next week in the wake of the small cyclone and subsequent flooding which hit Newcastle and the Hunter Valley on 21st and 22nd April.

Customers should be reassurred that there will be no delay in the completion of vestments by the dates discussed.

Please pray for those who have been badly affected by this natural disaster.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Mutual Enrichment Revisited

Every now and then, articles will appear on Blogdom discussing that mutual enrichment between the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite which Pope Benedict advocated in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Fr Tim Finigan, at his well-known blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity posted an article in 2011 about mutual enrichment between the two forms of the Roman Rite. It is a well thought-out article which is recommend to your reading.

Perhaps the Saint Bede Studio may be allowed its two-pence worth about this subject?  In this post, let us discuss this from the perspective of mutually enriching the aesthetics of the two Forms for, although the external appearances are of a lesser degree of importance than the prayers and rituals of the Mass, these external forms do, nevertheless, make a strong impression upon those who look at them, namely the congregation.

For the purposes of this discussion, let us consider the scenario where both Forms of the Roman Rite are offered in the same Church or Parish, using the same sanctuary or altar and by the same priest and community.

Le Barroux: Contemporary vestments intended for the EF.
Whilst it is true that there are in use worldwide tasteful vestments and tasteless vestments, there is no stipulation that a particular style of vestments is appropriate to one Form of the Roman Rite more than another.  Readers of liturgical blogs might be excused for thinking this is not the case: they might be forgiven for thinking that the only appropriate style of vestments for the Extraordinary Form is the Baroque chasuble (sometimes mistakenly referred to as the "Roman" chasuble, or, more derisively, the fiddleback).  They might be forgiven this, because every day we see photographs appear on numerous Blogs of celebrations of the Extraordinary Form with Baroque vestments.  Sometimes, we even see Extraordinary Form Masses being celebrated with brand new Baroque vestments.  Well, the equation of Baroque vestments with Catholic Tradition simply is a non-sequitur

When the approach is taken that Baroque vestments must be used for the Extraordinary Form, we risk moving away from Tradition into the Re-Creation of bygone eras.  Tradition isn't about that, nor is the Hermeneutic of Continuity, which we hear so much about these days.  This is a very shallow interpretation of Tradition and Continuity.  Read more about that here.

In short, one obvious sort of mutual enrichment of the two Forms of the Roman Rite is when people observe that the same styles of vestments are appropriate for both and there is no required disjunct between the two.

Another is the manner in which altars are set up.  Leaving aside the question of the Orientation of the Extraordinary Form, an altar may be set up for Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form simply with two candlesticks and a Crucifix, resting on the mensa of the altar.  Tragically, some have now implemented the practice that, for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form, a timber shelf is placed on an altar, sometimes with a faux-tabernacle built into it, in order to make the altar seem more like "a Traditional High altar".  This frightful practice is not only nonsense, it is also unliturgical.  Is it not disrespectful of the dignity of a consecrated altar to place portable shelves on it?

Processional Cross as the altar Cross.
Vest the altar in worthy antependia (altar frontals) and with cloths of white linen.  If you find altar cloths (the cloths that cover the mensa of the altar) in your church which are made in the liturgical colours (another frightful practice) instead of pure white, dispose of these with a just penalty.

You don't have to place six candlesticks on your altar for the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form.  It is fashionable to do this now, adopting what people are referring to as the Benedictine Arrangement.  Two good-sized, worthy candlesticks will do, particularly if the altar is a small one.  If you do use a set of six candlesticks, make sure they are a matching set and proportionate to the altar.

Here is another suggestion: if you have a free-standing altar, locate the Processional Cross in the very centre of the altar (at the front of the altar for the Ordinary Form and at the back of the altar for the Extraordinary Form).  Anciently, the Processional Cross was used this way before there was ever a thought of placing a Cross on the altar.  A processional Cross so located can serve for both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms.

Secondly, then, ornament the altar for both Forms of the Roman Rite in much the same manner, even if the Orientation of the celebration is different.

Priestly crossing of the stole.
Thirdly, for priest readers: start crossing your stole when you vest for Mass in the Ordinary Form.  It might be immediately objected that this is forbidden by the GIRM (a debatable point),  but if you crossed your stole, would anyone mind that much?  It is an ancient practice and it reinforces the distinction between the threefold Orders of deacon, priest and bishop.  Give it a try.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Paschal Greetings

To all readers of this blog and to customers and friends of the Saint Bede Studio, may many Graces be yours on the Day of our Lord's Resurrection.

In a world full of strife, violence, persecutions, hatred, abuse, etc. - all wrought by man - we look again to the optimistic Christian message that God has overcome Death and all the awfulness, frailties and disappointments of our earthly life and loves each and every poor sinner.

Christ is Risen !

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Mandatum Revisited

A 19th century engraving depicting the Pope, surrounded
by the Papal Court washing the feet of thirteen
poor men of Rome.
This rite took place in the Sistine Chapel on the
morning of Maundy Thursday.
The practice of Pope Francis to celebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper outside of the Vatican and in places which are not churches, but prisons or hospices, continues to catch the attention of the world. The Pope's decision to wash the feet of girls (as well as boys) and non-Christians during the Mandatum has variously attracted perplexity and rapture.

An analysis of the merits of this Pope's actions is not the purpose of this post. Rather, we wish to give an outline of the history of the Mandatum in order to present reasons why the significance of the Rite is open to different interpretations and philosophies.

The Catholic Encyclop√¶dia (1907-1914) has an article on the history of the Mandatum, written by Herbert Thurston SJ, of which the following is an extract.  Father Thurston had written previously about the Mandatum in his monograph Lent and Holy Week (1904):

This tradition, we may believe, has never been interrupted, though the evidence in the early centuries is scattered and fitful. For example the Council of Elvira (A.D. 300) in Canon 48 directs that the feet of those about to be baptized are not to be washed by priests but presumably by clerics or at least lay persons. This practice of washing the feet at baptism was long maintained in Gaul, Milan, and Ireland, but it was not apparently known in Rome or in the East. In Africa the nexus between this ceremony and baptism became so close that there seemed danger of its being mistaken for an integral part of the rite of baptism itself (Augustine, Ep. LV, Ad Jan., n. 33). Hence the washing of the feet was in many places assigned to another day than that on which the baptism took place. In the religious orders the ceremony found favour as a practice of charity and humility. The Rule of St. Benedict directs that it should be performed every Saturday for all the community by him who exercised the office of cook for the week; while it was also enjoined that the abbot and the brethren were to wash the feet of those who were received as guests. The act was a religious one and was to be accompanied by prayers and psalmody, "for in our guests Christ Himself is honoured and received". The liturgical washing of feet (if we can trust the negative evidence of our early records) seems only to have established itself in East and West at a comparatively late date. In 694 the Seventeenth Synod of Toledo commanded all bishops and priests in a position of superiority under pain of excommunication to wash the feet of those subject to them. The matter is also discussed by Amalarius and other liturgists of the ninth century. Whether the custom of holding this Maundy (from Mandatum novum do vobis, the first words of the initial Antiphon) on Maundy Thursday, developed out of the baptismal practice originally attached to that day does not seem quite clear, but it soon became a universal custom in cathedral and collegiate churches. In the latter half of the twelfth century the pope washed the feet of twelve sub-deacons after his Mass and of thirteen poor men after his dinner. The Caeremoniale Episcoporum (1600) directs that the bishop is to wash the feet either of thirteen poor men or of thirteen of his canons. The bishop and his assistants are vested and the Gospel Ante diem festum paschae is ceremonially sung with incense and lights at the beginning of the function. Most of the sovereigns of Europe used also formerly to perform the Maundy. The custom is still retained at the Austrian and Spanish courts.
A number of points may be made here.  Although the origin of the Mandatum is a Divine Precept, which the Church has since earliest times considered binding, its expression and its symbolism are by no means clear in liturgical history. On the one hand, it is associated with the Catechumenate, on the other hand with the poor; yet again, a demonstration of the attitude of service which a bishop or religious superior ought to have towards his community.

The question of the Mandatum being linked to Ordination to the ministerial priesthood is somewhat less clear, although it is often spoken about.

What is quite clear, amongst various uncertainties, is that throughout its history, the Mandatum had no relationship with ordinary parish life: it was a rite which pertained to the Diocesan Cathedral or  Church of a Religious Community. Only since 1955, with the revisions of the Holy Week Liturgy approved by Pope Pius XII, has the Mandatum been included in the ceremonies of the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday and consequently, celebrated ordinarily in parishes. Perhaps this revision was not as laudable as was thought at the time.

In the last two decades, we have witnessed the spectacle of all sorts of curious and frightful additions to the Mandatum, advocated by tinpot liturgists (we will refrain from describing any of these dismal accretions).  And so, the symbolism of this ancient rite has become obscured again.  An unfortunate by-product of this trajectory is that the real focus of the Evening Mass of Maundy Thursday - the Institution of the Blessed Eucharist and Ministerial Priesthood - becomes obscured.

Happily, we note that in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite, the Mandatum is optional. Its being observed at a time other than during the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday is something, we might suggest, which might be given serious consideration. Were that to happen, perhaps it would be of lesser consequence if the feet of women were also washed. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Pontifical Requiem for King Richard III

Westminster chasuble
15th century English embroidery
 of the Crucifixion
on the rear of the chasuble.
The memorable events surrounding the reinterment of the remains of King Richard III of England have been taking place in Britain over the last several days and will conclude with the late King's burial in the Cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Leicester on Thursday and Friday.

One of the occasions forming part of this was a Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Vincent Cardinal Nichols of Westminster at Holy Cross Priory Church in Leicester. For this Mass, the Cardinal wore a fifteenth century vestment known as the Westminster chasuble. Information about this chasuble may be read here and here.

It cannot be claimed with certainty that this chasuble was worn during a Mass offered in the presence of King Richard, although this is heavily suggested at present. If it were worn, the late King would be surprised to see what the chasuble looks like now, which bears little resemblance to its original condition. The chasuble became part of the patrimony of Ushaw College in northern England in 1867. Perhaps at this time it was transformed from its original mediaeval form to the "Roman" form. The word mutilated is not too strong to be used to describe this modification. An execrable narrow braid of gold lace has been used on the remade chasuble, adding insult to injury.

King Richard IIIWhenever it was modified, undoubtedly it was in bad condition by then, threadbare and unwearable. It is unlikely that the chasuble was just cut-back to make it smaller, but rather completely remade using those sections of fabric (a brocaded velvet) which were still in usable condition.

We see that the fabric on the back of the chasuble is quite different from that on the front. To our modern sensibilities, this may be seem quite strange, but it was hardly unusual in mediaeval times. It would seem that two quite different fabrics, but of the same place of origin were used to make this one chasuble.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art indicates that the velvet used for the front of the chasuble is probably of Venetian origin and from the last quarter of the fifteenth century. A description of an almost identical length of velvet, found in the Museum, is given here.

Westminster chasuble
Prompted by musings on another Blog and the indignation of one of our correspondents, we have prepared the adjacent rendering of how the Westminster chasuble might originally have looked. Quite obviously, this is conjectural, but it is based on some probabilities. By the fifteenth century, when fabrics employed for vestments were heavier and less flexible, the shape of the chasuble had changed from the classical conical or semi-conical form. A fifteenth century chasuble preserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna has been used as the basis for our conjecture of the original appearance of the Westminster chasuble. The velvet described above preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been used to recreate the appearance of the front of the chasuble.

How would the chasuble have appeared on fifteenth century celebrants? Given the very much smaller average height of mediaeval people, the chasuble would have been long, but not ankle length, on its wearers. It would also have been quite wide, extending to the wrists. How different from how it appeared as worn by the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster last Monday!

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Ladye Day

To commemorate our Lady's Feast, we are pleased to present this Maria Regina chasuble, recently completed for a priest in Western Australia.

The Maria Regina chasuble, especially intended for Feasts of the Blessed Virgin, is based on the style of chasuble commonly found in England and the Low Countries in the 15th and 16th centuries: long and pointed, but reaching only to the elbows. This cut of chasuble was adopted by AWN Pugin at the times of his Revival of "Gothic" vestments in the 19th century. The braids to ornament these vestments were designed by the Saint Bede Studio, inspired by a Pugin orphrey.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries :

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Lenten Vestments

Lenten vestmentsThe vestment described in this post was commissioned together with a number of other vestments for a Latin Mass Community in Brazil.

This is a chasuble in the Studio's Saint Martin style, being a contemporary interpretation of the mediaeval chasuble. It is a very ample vestment and intended for use in Lent. The vestments are made from a simple silk in a very dark shade of purple and ornamented with a braid of the Studio's own design, but based on the work of AWN Pugin.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

At "The New Liturgical Movement" Blog

Vestments made for an ordinand in 2013 have made a surprise appearance at the blog The New Liturgical Movement.

They are depicted here.

Enquiries :

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Vestment Commissions with the Studio

A note to readers who may be considering commissioning vestments with the Saint Bede Studio or who have made recent enquiries :

Commissions for the LAST QUARTER of 2015 will close on 15th March. Our schedule of work has filled quickly, so please contact us now to avoid disappointment.

This is the last call. Thank you.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

7th March 1965

As has been noted on a number of Blogs, 7th March marks the 50th Anniversary of the celebration by Pope Paul VI of the first Mass offered in Italy according to the modifications in the rite of Mass requested by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Paul chose a Roman Parish Church for this special Mass.

We will discuss in a forthcoming post this Mass and the specific revisions of the Order of Mass which were promulgated at the beginning of 1965.

In the meantime, our attention is drawn to this photograph of the Mass, shewing the Pope wearing (probably for the first time) one of the more ample chasubles which became common in Rome thereafter. This chasuble was made of purple silk. It appears to have a silken lining. Its ornament, being a simple column back and front, is not visible in the photograph. Of note is that the chasuble is not of the same proportions as those which were common later in the reign of Pope Paul and the reign of Pope John Paul II. Being not too long, it is possible clearly to see the Pope's albe.