Wednesday 5 December 2007

Chasubles of the 16th century

The Saint Bede Studio has commenced production of a new range of chasubles in the Italianate form of the 16th century. This style of chasuble is most commonly seen in depictions of Saint Philip Neri. After months of research and experimentation, the first of these chasubles has been produced (see attached picture). This new line of chasubles is not intended to be an exact re-creation of the 16th century Italianate chasuble, but a modern interpretation based on its dimensions and form. The chasuble pictured is made from an ivory-coloured brocade, lined in cotton and ornamented with silk damask and narrow braid in gold and burgundy.

What distinguishes the form of this chasuble? It is wider than the so-called "Roman" chasubles of the latter Baroque in that it reaches almost to the elbows. It is also much longer at the front and the back and its stole reaches below the lower edge of the chasuble. Its decoration, however, is very similar to the "Roman" chasuble: a form of ornament which stretches back many centuries.

Unlike the "Roman" chasuble, this 16th century form sits very comfortably on the wearer and does not move around, fall off the shoulders etc.

The Saint Bede Studio is offering this chasuble especially for use in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and as a "bridge" between the two opposing camps of vestment ideology: those who will only wear the more ample Gothic chasuble and those who regard the "Roman" chasuble as the authentic expression of Catholic Tradition. The 16th century chasuble still has the length of the ancient chasuble, even though its width has been substantially reduced.

The Saint Giles Chasuble

Pictured is the Saint Giles chasuble, a new design of the Saint Bede Studio. It is simplified version of a design by A.W.N. Pugin. A green brocade (Emerald green on a very dark base colour) is ornamented with a Puginesque braid in red and gold and lined in scarlet-red. The braid has been produced exclusively for the Saint Bede Studio (intellectual rights protected under International Law). This chasuble is intended to be a stock item of the Studio.

Episcopal Dalmatic

The Saint Bede Studio was recently commissioned to make an Episcopal Dalmatic for the Most Rev'd Peter Elliott, auxiliary bishop of Melbourne. This dalmatic, of silver brocade, has a fringe along the lower edge, in the mediaeval style. A similar dalmatic in gold brocade is also being prepared.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Usus Antiquior

The Latin Mass Community of Saint Aloysius, Caulfield North (Archdiocese of Melbourne), commissioned the Saint Bede Studio to design and make sets of white vestments. One of the sets is shewn in the adjacent photograph. Made from a cream-coloured brocade and fully-lined, this chasuble is ornamented with a cotton braid of Indian origin. This 3cm-wide braid was arranged in parallel lines to form the orphrey and highlighted with stripes of a scarlet and straw-coloured braid.

Saturday 17 November 2007

Mitres for Pontifical Masses

Recently, the Saint Bede Studio was commissioned to complete cloth gold mitres for two well-known bishops: His Eminence, George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, and +Msgr. Peter Elliott, auxiliary bishop of Melbourne. These mitres were used at Pontifical Masses celebrated according to the Usus antiquior of the Roman Rite in Saint Mary's Cathedral, Sydney and the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bendigo. The adjacent photos were taken at those Masses.

The Liturgical Colour "violaceus" in the Roman Rite PART ONE

A subject that has interested me for many years is the question of the colour of the vestments set down to be used in Advent and Lent: purple. Why, I wondered, were there so many variables to be found in this colour amongst vestments, ranging from pink to a dark blue? Recently, having watched a television program about the production of the purple dye as the ancients knew it, I thought that it was worth researching how these colours came to be used for Church vestments. So, this article is the fruit of my research on the use of the liturgical colour violet/purple. Firstly, are the two words violet and purple simply different names for the same colour? Certainly not; Violet is a colour of the spectrum, whereas purple isn’t. In terms of colour definition, violet has definite overtones of blue whereas purple has overtones of red. In this article, a clear distinction is intended to be made when the words "purple" and "violet" are used.

Catholic Prelates (bishops and monsignori) wear vesture of a colour designated by the Church violaceus. In the English-speaking world, we call it Roman Purple; strictly speaking, in terms of colour definitions, this colour is not purple but fuchsia or amethyst. The purple robes of the prelates are trimmed in a colour called Amaranth red (crimson).

Is this Roman purple the colour that the Church intends for vestments in the Seasons of Lent and Advent and for Funeral Liturgies? Some say yes, some say no. The practice in Rome has varied over the last several hundred years.

The Liturgical Books of the Roman Rite (Extraordinary and Ordinary) - The Roman Missal, The Roman Pontifical, The Ceremonial of Bishops - all use the Latin word violaceus specifying the colour. The same word used to denote the colour of vestments is also used to denote the colour of the vesture of prelates. But the colour described by the word violaceus can be either “violet” or “purple” as we define those colours. There is another Latin word purpura (which strictly translates as “purple”), but this is hardly ever mentioned in the Liturgical books or the works of commentators.

In more recent centuries, Rome has understood the word violaceus as describing Roman Purple. Has it always been so? Not at all. Even as recently as the early 20th century it was common to find prelates (but outside of Rome) in violet rather than purple cassocks etc. This confusion was resolved when the Congregation for Sacred Ceremonial issued the decree De colore violaceo of 24th June 1933 defining the shade of violaceus to be used for the vesture of prelates and left a sample of fabric of that colour with the Secretary of the Congregation for Consistories in Rome as a reference point. I’d imagine it’s still about somewhere. Certainly since then we see a worldwide a greater uniformity in the colour of purple worn by prelates.

This ambiguity around the exact colour that the word violaceus denotes extends back into antiquity. But it should be noted that in Antiquity purpura not violaceus was the term used to describe the colour of purple garments.

Although the earliest archaeological evidence for the origins of purple dyes points to the Minoan civilization in Crete, about 1900 B.C., the ancient land of Canaan (its corresponding Greek name was Phoenicia, which means “land of the purple”) was the centre of the ancient purple dye industry. The city of Tyr in Phoenicia was especially famous for producing the dye; thus the name “Tyrian”. “Tyrian Purple” was produced from the mucus of the hypobranchial gland of various species of marine mollusks, notably the Murex. It is believed that it took some 12,000 shellfish to extract 1.5 grams of the pure dye! It can readily be seen why this labour-intensive process was so expensive.

Because the process for producing dye in this way was lost after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, there has been much speculation as to the precise colour the process actually produced. The answer is that, because of many variables in the process, it didn’t produce any one colour. Sometimes the colour was the same as the flower “violets”, sometimes very similar to fuchsia. But garments of Tyrian Purple were supposedly produced by double-dyeing the fabric, which gave a darker colour. Consequently, the colour produced in that process wasn’t “purple” as we understand purple: the Roman natural historian Pliny described it as the colour of clotted blood: a dark crimson or even maroon.

One of the attractions of Tyrian purple was that it was the only colour-fast dye known to the ancients. Furthermore, to the ancients, it wasn’t the just the colour that was important: it was also the prestige that accompanied having garments dyed by this expensive process, something only the wealthy could afford. Purple was a status symbol. In Ancient Rome its use was limited to Emperors, and to a lesser extent, senators, so Tyrian purple also became known as Imperial Purple.

In the late period of the Roman Empire (after the fall of the Western Empire), and after the conquest of Tyr by the Arabs in the 7th century, the Tyrian purple dye became less available in Europe, but still freely available in the Eastern or Byzantine Empire. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and until quite recently, producing Tyrian or Imperial purple through the dye of the Murex shellfish became a lost process. In the last 20 years, scholars have successfully re-constructed the process through field experiments.

Centuries before the fall of Constantinople, Europe had already adopted other dyeing processes that produced a colour sometimes known as Royal Purple; this was not the same colour as Tyrian purple, but varied from being a shade a little richer than the colour of the flower violet, to the shade of the precious stone the amethyst. These shades of “purple” continued to be used in Europe into modern times. Other less expensive processes were also adopted to replicate the ancient Tyrian purple colour. We can claim with some certainty, therefore, that there has been a continuous tradition of the use of purple in Rome since ancient times. The last remnant of its use in Rome is the Pope’s winter mozetta (see adjacent picture): it is of a shade close to Tyrian purple, even though it is not dyed according to the ancient process.

Before the 20th century, whether the shade of violaceus was closer to violet or purple (the result of many variables) in any given garment was unlikely to have been considered of any consequence. The technological advances of the 19th century permitted dyes to be produced with a greater accuracy than hitherto. A darker version of violet – more like Indigo in the colour spectrum– came to be used for vestments, especially outside of Rome. Thus it was that a sharp difference between the two colours violet and purple emerged. At this time (and up until the post-Vatican II period), Rome continued to use a lighter shade (closer to amethyst-purple) for the vestments of penitential liturgies.


The Liturgical Colour violaceus in the Roman Rite PART TWO

Updated 2nd December.

In the twelfth century, Pope Innocent III was the first to specify the colours of the vestments that were to be used for the Roman Rite; almost certainly this reflected prevailing custom in Rome, not an invention on his part. Although a separate subject from this article, it is well to remember that it was only towards the end of the 1st Millenium that the question of vestment colour became a significant one.Black was designated for penitential and funeral liturgies, but violaceus was indicated as a substitute for black. Pope Innocent’s treatise De sacro altaris mysterio (Book I, chapter 65, which was written before his election as pope in 1198) seems to be the first indication that violaceus had come to be regarded as a penitential colour for the Roman Rite.

If the Royal Purple colour which emerged in Late Antiquity Europe as a substitute for Tyrian Purple incorporated what Innocent III refers to as violaceus how did it come to be regarded as a colour of Penance rather than Status? The answer to that is not clear. Extensive research is needed into how the word violaceus was used in Late Antiquity. We do know that the flowers we know as violets were known in antiquity and that the words viola and violarium described the flower, violaceus being an adjective derived from those nouns.

So, what colour is indicated by Innocent’s use of the word violaceus? Let’s consider that question differently: not what the colour was, but what process was used to produce the colour.

It is likely that at this time (12th century) Tyrian or Imperial purple was still being used in Rome, but it had become the colour used exclusively by the Pope and by nobility. So, when Innocent used the word violaceus, instead of purpura, it would seem very unlikely that he was recommending that violaceus-coloured vestments were to be dyed from the expensive process for producing Tyrian purple. That expensive process would be unaffordable and unavailable to Western clergy. Rather, it would seem likely that Innocent’s violaceus was intended as Royal purple , a colour produced from the less expensive non-Murex dyes. It should be carefully noted that these less expensive dyeing processes could produce a violet-coloured dye or an amethyst (or fuchsia) purple coloured dye. But they were colours not so dark as Tyrian purple. I would suggest, therefore, that Innocent’s use of the word violaceus has nothing to do with an attempt to make a distinction (as some scholars have suggested) between the colours we recognise as violet and purple.

Whilst I suggest that it is an error to interpret Innocent’s violaceus as intending only the colour violet as we recognise it today, it should also be noted that his treatise in a separate section (Chapter 32) discusses the use of the Mosaic colours (cf Exodus 28:5) scarlet, flax-gold, blue and purple, the latter which Innocent describes as signifying the authority and royal dignity of a bishop. In short, purpura still had the connotation of prestige in the time of Innocent III (quite distinct from a penitential use).

I would add that it is certain that Innocent’s violaceus was not the dark violet-blue colour indigo which is commonly understood today as liturgical violet. Indigo, an ancient colour, was a blue quite distinct from violet or amethyst purple. Furthermore, it was not a commonly-used colour in Europe until the 16th century, when it came to be imported from India (hence the name Indigo).

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the supply of the Murex shell to produce Tyrian purple dye disappeared. So, in 1464 Pope Paul II authorised an alternative method of production of purple dye, extracted from the cochineal insect. Some scholars have suggested that the purple of the cochineal was much closer in hue to what we call purple and led to our modern conception of purple being a mixture of red and blue. As we have seen, the “purple” Tyrian was dark crimson because of double-dyeing. Others have suggested that Paul II's colour was closer to what we know as the scarlet used by Cardinals. Further investigation of this is required.

Even after Paul II’s introduction of the new process for dyeing, the colours violet and purple continued to be interchanged indiscriminately throughout the Western church for penitential vestments and the robes of bishops up until the 19th century. The 17th century painting of the prelate Ottaviano Prati shows that his vesture is of violet rather than the fuchsia-purple that we are now familiar with.

From the 19th century, as the process of dyeing fabric became more refined, that shade which the Church designated “purple” became more specific. Even so (as mentioned earlier in the article), it was not until 1933 that Rome specified the shade of purple that was to be used for the robes of its prelates.

A darker version of violet – closer to indigo – became more common in Europe in the 19th century and soon crept into the usage of the Church. Rome resisted this innovation until after the Vatican Council, but we have seen Popes over the last 35 years wearing this Indigo-colour during Lent: a dark colour to reflect a penitential mood.

To conclude, a little summary. The word violaceus used in the ceremonial books of the Roman Rite indicates the colour purple (reddish hues) or violet (bluish hues): the Church does not define the shade violaceus as it applies to sacred vestments. But the Church does define the shade violaceus for the robes of its prelates. Both the reddish purple and the bluish “purple” are colours that have been traditionally used for sacred vestments in the Roman Rite since at least the 12th century. There is a well-established usage in the Church’s Traditions for Tyrian purple, violet and amethyst purple (or fuchsia). But of all the shades of “violaceus” currently in use throughout the Roman Rite, Indigo or dark violet has the least claim to Tradition.

The ceremonial books of the Roman Rite make no distinction between the shade of violaceus for the vestments that are to be worn in Advent, Lent or for funerals.
On the other hand, those books do not prohibit variations, which might enhance symbolism in a particular Season. In other words, the one shade of “violaceus” is not required to be used for Lent, Advent and for Funerals. In more recent years, for example, the Pope has worn indigo-violet in Lent and purple in Advent. In the United States, some liturgists advocate the opposite practice. In Australia, the colour of the violet flower is used in many dioceses for Advent. Since the Church gives latitude on these matters, we are on safe ground when we choose these shades for liturgical use. We are not on safe ground, however, when we insist that a particular shade is the colour that the Church intends. The history of the use of these colours reveals that they were used freely, without specific regulation, right up until our own times.

Some views of my own on these matters, and they are no more than that: views.

For the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite, when red vestments are required to be used for Palm Sunday and Good Friday, I would like to suggest that it is perfectly permissible and even desirable to use that blood red colour which the ancients referred to as Tyrian Purple. Dare I suggest that this purple is also the appropriate colour for Palm Sunday and Good Friday in the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite? I risk being accused of archaeologism, of course.

Then, there is the Season in the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite called “Septuagesima”. Is it desirable that the importance of the Season of Lent (from Ash Wednesday onward) be enhanced by the use of vestments of a different colour from the colour used in Septuagesima? We know this is the case in the Sarum and other uses, where a special “Lenten Array” of unbleached linen was used specifically for Lent.

I would like to acknowledge assistance from Inge Boesken Kanold and Dr Gerhard Steigerwald, scholars of the history of the colour purple, in the preparation of this article.

Friday 12 October 2007

Funeral Liturgy Vestments

From time to time, discussions comes up on various Blogs about the colour of vestments to be used for Funeral Liturgies. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal sets down that purple (violaceus) vestments should be worn, but black or white vestments may be used where it is customary. For the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, black vestments are to be used.

Of course, it has become commonplace throughout much of the Church that white vestments are the standard fare for funerals. Here, I don't wish to comment on the arguments for and against this usage (though it is a practice I personally dislike).

Instead, I would like to comment that if white vestments are to be used for funerals, they should be decidely different from Festal vestments. Rather than being ornamental, they should be restrained, even sombre: characterised by simplicity. The Holy Rood Guild supplies such white sets as a standard fare: a simple cream-coloured chasuble, ornamented with orphreys of dark purple. They supply a funeral pall to match.

At the moment, the Saint Bede Studio is working on a project to develop a chasuble for Funeral liturgies that is white, but decorated in black and gold. For this design, the use of black is very limited, so that there is not a clash of extremes. I also feel it is important to highlight that such sets of vestments are not intended for festal use, by making them of plain fabrics (wool, unbleached linen or raw silk), rather than a brocade or damask.

A photograph of the completed vestment will be posted on this Blog in the next several weeks.

Monday 24 September 2007

Just a question of taste?

After my posting about differing styles of vestments, I received a number of e-mails, mostly those thanking me for raising these issues. Others, however, responded in a manner that was (frankly) near-hysterical. That people feel so passionate as to react in such a manner is a topic worthy of some discussion. And so, I have been asked to write a little more on these subjects.

It has been put to me that the question of the style of vestments is purely one of taste; that “Roman” vestments represent an organic development of the Church’s liturgy and accordingly might not be questioned; and that the Traditions that people love should not be mocked.

So, I would like to answer these particular questions. It may be that whether one likes or dislikes “Roman” vestments is a matter of taste. But that wasn’t the point of my original post. My point was this: why is there an almost automatic association between Roman vestments, lace albs etc and the Old Mass? Unhappily, there is most certainly an attitude floating around in the circles of Catholic Tradition that this Baroque expression of the Old Mass is THE valid expression. Consequently (I assure you I am not caricaturing this view), using styles of vestments that are older or more modern than that of the Baroque, is regarded with suspicion and even hostility. People should be aware that there are priests who refuse to wear more ample vestments because they regard them as antithetical to Tradition (there are also priests who prefer Roman vestments because they give a greater freedom of movement for the arms; that, of course, is a separate issue).

For me, this is quite a disturbing attitude. It is an attitude that ought to be examined critically, because it is a very narrow interpretation of the concept of Tradition. It is not adequate to assert that the use of Roman vestments and lace may not be subject to question because they are “Traditional”.

Exactly why is there such an attachment to this Baroque expression of Tradition? This, I suspect is a question which cuts to the heart of people’s perception of the nature of Tradition. It is a sociological issue also, which I am not qualified to comment on. Somebody put to me once that many people were greatly upset and even scandalised when Papal Rome made a wholesale rejection of the Baroque in the late 1960’s. The array of Papal ceremonial was replaced with something very functional and austere: somewhat like the ethos of the 1960’s itself. Consequently, and for precisely this reason, there is a very negative attitude amongst some to modern expressions in the style of vestments. Had 1960’s Rome decided to use beautiful damasks for the Papal vestments instead of the plainest of silk, perhaps attitudes might have been different.

Perhaps those who were born after that era and whose experience of vestments has been the often uninspired, sometimes hideous products of the major Church suppliers find the beautiful damasks and ornamentation of the Roman chasuble quite attractive in their richness and in their differentness. There is also a certain fascination with this style of vestment. And there is the concept that is once again becoming most important: using vestments of magnificence for the worship of God.

The photograph I have attached shews the Benedictine Abbot of Le Barroux offering Mass in the Monastery church of Sainte-Marie de la Garde (Saint Perre De Clairac, France) a foundation of Le Barroux. The vestments are very rich and, although obviously inspired by ancient forms, are nevertheless modern in presentation. They were made for and only used for the Old Mass.

In future articles, I hope to discuss what the essence of a vestment is and why it is desirable to strike a balance between the form of the vestment and its ornament. I will also discuss various misconceptions about past statements of the Congregation of Rites on the use of "Gothic" versus "Roman" vestments. And, I will tackle thorny questions such as why these issues are not just a question of taste and why the "organic development" assertion is a not an adequate argument in discussing styles of vestments.

Saturday 22 September 2007

Looking forward, not back

As a devotee of the Old Mass (now to be referred to as the Extraordinary Form or More Ancient Use of the Roman Rite) since boyhood, the promulgation of Pope Benedict's motu proprio has been an occasion of the greatest joy for me. But what I have seen since the announcement has made me pause to reflect. Is Summorum Pontificum a document that intends to make Tradition anew for the future, or a document that wishes to re-create the past? This issue is, in fact, a tension that has been manifest in the Old Mass movement all along.

For my part, Summorum Pontificum is not only about clarifying the status of the Old Mass; I believe it is also intended as a means to reform the degenerate state into which the Church's Liturgy has fallen. The revival of the Old Mass is intended to enrich the Church: our ancient Traditions are never more needed. But this doesn't require our getting into a time machine back to 1950 or 1750. When I saw a headline on the internet Return of Latin mass sparks old vestment hunt, I felt slightly uneasy. What I have seen since 14th September has made me very uneasy: an explosion of pictures on the internet of the celebration of the Old Mass, almost all of them shewing lacey albs, fiddleback chasubles, birettas, baroque mitres etc etc. It's as if suddenly the doors of a lolly shop were broken down and everyone has got in to gorge themselves.

These are the questions I wish to pose to the Old Mass Movement: Do people believe that the true expression of the Old Mass must be with Baroque styles of vestments? If so, why? Is this Tradition or Re-creation?

This blog was not intended for philosophical debate, but about issues concerning the Liturgy and specifically Sacred vestments and architecture. So, I attach two photos to this post of Pontifical celebrations of the Old Mass. In one, the Cardinal-President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission and his assistants are vested in a frightful dark red set of 18th century "Roman" vestments (but certainly a very beautiful cope is also pictured); in the other, a French bishop celebrates an Ordination at the Benedictine Abbey of Fontgombault in 2004. Celebrant and ministers are vested in a beautiful early 20th century set of red Gothic revival vestments. The contrast between these two expressions of Tradition is overwhelming.

Monday 3 September 2007

S' Philip Neri: 16th century chasuble

The Saint Bede Studio has now received a number of orders for chasubles according to the style of the 16th century. Chasubles of this period, whilst having the decorative features of the later "fiddleback" chasubles of the 18th century, were much longer and wider than the 18th century form. Sometimes this 16th century cut of chasuble is referred to as the style of S' Philip Neri, because there are several portraits of the Saint wearing just such vestments (see adjacent picture).

Although this cut of chasuble has never completely disappeared, in more recent times there appears to be a revived interest. This can be observed in photographs of various Masses celebrated by the Fathers of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in Witgratzbad (see adjacent pictures).

The style illustrated in the pictures is the Italianate style. Another form existed in Catholic England at this time, which was more pointed at the front, slightly wider and employed a narrower stole and maniple. This was similar to the form revived by Pugin and others in the first half of the 19th century.

Saturday 18 August 2007

Pugin-inspired Braids

The Saint Bede Studio is pleased to announce the release of the first of a series of vestment braids after the style of AWN Pugin. The first of these braids (width 8cm) is shewn in the adjacent picture and is old gold on crimson red. The genius of Pugin was such that he conceived a braid which would happily ornament all the liturgical colours: White, Green, Red, Violet and Black. Pugin's original braid (in the same colours, crimson and gold), designed in the 1840's, may be familiar to readers and a form of it is still available from English manufacturers (with the unhappy addition of lurex thread). The Saint Bede Studio braid, however, is an original design, based upon Pugin's work, not a copy of it. The designs for this new series of Puginesque braids will be protected under international law.

The Colour (Color) Purple: part one

Some months ago, I had an online discussion about the difference between the colours purple and violet. In descriptive terms, violet is tinged with blue; purple is tinged with red. So, when the Church’s ceremonial books cite the colour "violaceus" (a Latin word), which colour is meant: violet or purple? There is no definitive answer to this, since the word itself can mean either purple or violet. See the problem? We know that the vesture of bishops is of a colour we call Roman purple. Is this the colour intended for sacred vestments in the Seasons of Lent and Advent? Some say yes, some say no. The practice throughout the world and in Rome itself has differed over the course of the last several centuries.

Let’s try to distinguish the uses of the colour "violaceus". The colour of vestments in Advent and Lent is intended to be penitential and sombre. The purple of bishops, however, is intended to be a mark of their rank, and is derived from the ancient use (by the Romans) of purple robes to denote dignity, prestige and royalty. Thus, that purple is not intended to be penitential.

Do we know what the ancient colour purple was? Until recently, no. But because of the research of English chemist John Edmonds and German artist Inge Boesken Kanold (go to website) we do now have a better idea. It is well known that the purple dye was made from the murex shellfish, which were obtained in ancient times from the seaport of Tyre. Did these shellfish produce a single, specific colour? Evidently not, because it depended on the shellfish which was used. One thing that can be said was that the dye produced by these shellfish was a rich, not a sombre colour. As to the hue? There is evidence of the shellfish producing both purple (similar to the colour of the robes of modern bishops) and also the colour of the flower violets.

In a separate article, I will try to deal with the question of when violaceus came to be designated as a pentitential colour (relatively recently) for liturgical use.

Tuesday 3 July 2007

Mitre for Melbourne liturgist-bishop

The Australian Confraternity for Catholic Clergy (ACCC) commissioned the Saint Bede Studio to make a mitre for the newly-consecrated auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, the Most Rev'd Peter Elliott. +Msgr Elliott is well known for his ceremonial commentaries on the Roman Rite. The mitre was made from Ecclesia cloth-gold brocade and is lined with rich Roman purple dupioni silk. To the new bishop: Ad multos Annos.

Wednesday 30 May 2007

Pontifical Mass in Melbourne

The auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, Dr. Christopher Prowse, celebrated Pontifical Mass at the faldstool for the Traditional Mass Community of Saint Aloysius, Caulfield North (Melbourne) on Sunday 22nd April. This was the first occasion that the bishop had offered the Old Mass, although in 2006 he had conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation according to the old Pontifical. The bishop was assisted at the Mass by Fathers Tattersall, McDaniels and McCaffrey of the Fraternity of Saint Peter.

The Saint Bede Studio had been asked to make a dalmatic and tunic for the bishop, in addition to a precious mitre and cloth-gold mitre. The precious mitre, which was to match an existing set of Solemn Mass vestments, is shewn in the adjacent photograph.

Vestments for the post-Pentecost Season

The Saint Bede Studio has recently completed a set of Solemn Mass vestments for the Traditional Mass Community of Saint Aloysius in Caulfield North. The adjacent picture shews the dalmatic and tunic from this set. An attractive green brocade is very difficult to obtain and we are constantly searching for supplies of the same.

Friday 25 May 2007

Month's Mind

Father Tattersall, Chaplain to the Traditional Mass community in Caulfield (Archdiocese of Melbourne), recently visited Singleton to offer Mass in the Convent Chapel of the Sisters of Mercy. The occasion was a Month's Mind for my mother, Clare Sternbeck.

Thursday 17 May 2007

Conical chasuble

Adjacent is a photograph of a conical chasuble recently completed by the Saint Bede Studio. For readers who may be unfamiliar with this style, its shape is very similar to that of a bell. Consequently, in order for the wearer to use his arms, the conical chasuble must be pulled up at the sides and allowed to rest in the small of the arms. When this happens, the vestment folds upward from the bottom in a manner quite distinctive. Mediaeval illustrations regularly show vestments with precisely these folds. A conical chasuble is not for celebrants who like to wave their arms around a lot, but it is quite manageable if the arms always remain extended or joined. Unlike the more commonly-found chasubles, the conical chasuble must be tailored to the shape of the wearer's shoulders, otherwise it fits very ill.

Wednesday 9 May 2007

A personal note

My dear Mother, Clare Jane Sternbeck, died unexpectedly on 25th April. Her illness lasted less than a day. She died peacefully having been anointed and received Holy Communion some hours before. My sisters and I had the privilege of being with my mother in her last hours.

My mother's funeral was celebrated in S' Patrick's church Singleton by Fr Glen Walsh. He was assisted by Fr. Michael McCaffrey FSSP. A small schola of very generous friends sang the Gregorian chants of the Requiem Mass, which created a consoling, tranquil atmosphere.

The morning was very overcast and threatening rain, but during the Memento of the Dead of the Canon and during the Final Commendation, a ray of sunlight broke through and shone through the Seven Dolours window, falling onto my Mother's casket, just where her head was resting. A beautiful sign of God's presence.

My mother, the child of devout parents, and the product of a thorough Catholic education, had a life-long love of God, the Blessed Virgin and the Church. Her devotion to the Blessed Virgin was expressed by her being part of the Children of Mary in her youth and the Legion of Mary in her later years. Perhaps my mother’s Christian Faith was most manifest in her years and years of empathy with and generosity to the sick, elderly and bereaved. Until age made it too difficult, she had been a regular visitor to the residents of Singleton's Retirement and Nursing homes. And over the last 30 years or more (until the last few years), she never missed a Catholic funeral in the parish, and often went to funerals in other churches. Prayer was a large part of my mother’s life and she kept lists of those for whom she wanted to pray. Another of her little apostolates was to send people greeting cards, of which she sent thousands throughout her life. My mother was always most grateful for anything that was done for her and always repaid kindness with generosity and her never-failing sense of humour.

heartfelt thanks to all those who have offered their sympathy and have supported us with their prayers.

Friday 20 April 2007

More Decisions of the Ecclesia Dei Commission

Above are shewn decisions of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, given in 1997 in response to dubia posed by an Australian bishop. They concern, of course, the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum. The decisions may be summarised as follows:

1. At a Low Mass, the celebrant may read an approved translation into the vernacular of the Epistle and Gospel.

2(a) At a Solemn Mass, the celebrant and ministers may join with the schola in singing a plainchant Gloria and Credo, without the requirement of reading them together beforehand.

2(b) At any sung Mass, the entire congregation may join with the Celebrant in singing the Pater noster.

3. The additional prefaces which were included in an appendix of the 1965 Missale Romanum may be used at any celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal. Furthermore, prefaces from the 1970 Missale Romanum may also be included.

In addition to these Decisions, the Commission attached to the letter its permissions regarding the form of the Conventual Mass which may be celebrated by the Traditionalist Benedictines of France. By this was intended that the form of celebration described may be celebrated elsewhere:

1. If the celebration of the Divine Office precedes Mass, the Prayers at the Foot of the altar may be omitted.

2. The rites accompanying the readings from scripture may be celebrated at the sedilia.

3. The readings may be proclaimed facing the people, whether in Latin or the vernacular and the celebrant is not required to read them or the Gradual chants separately.

4. Bidding Prayers may be offered after the Oremus, immediately preceding the Offertory.

5. The "Secret" prayer may be sung aloud.

6. The celebrant may sing the entire doxology Per ipsum, whilst elevating the Host over the chalice.

7. The Pater noster may be sung by all with the celebrant.

8. The final Blessing may be sung, and afterwards the Last Gospel may be omitted.

Monday 16 April 2007

Mitre of Pope Paul VI

This is a picture of Pope Paul during his visit to Sydney Australia in November, 1970. He is wearing one of several identical mitres which were designed for him, ornamented with embroideries of the Four Evangelists. These mitres were made for Pope Paul by a Milanese firm. The mitre is remarkable for its couched gold thread, running in parallel circles (you can see this in the photograph). The highest workmanship is evident in these mitres and they are of good proportion. Pope Paul left his mitre in Sydney after his visit, and thus have I been able to examine the one pictured in close detail.

Monday 26 March 2007

Clarification on E D Commission 1992 Decision

To place the decision of the Commission on the substitution of an acolyte for subdeacon at a Solemn Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum in context, I attach the text of my 1992 dubium to the Commission. The Commission chose to reply in the manner that it did (see the Decision, below), notwithstanding the permissions and restrictions which existed before the Council.

Ecclesia Dei Commission Decisions#1

One of the reasons for establishing this Web Log was to make available documents about the celebration of the Mass and Sacraments according to the 1962 Missal. This first posting concerns a letter conveying decisions of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. These decisions, dating from 1992, concern (inter alia) the inclusion of Masses for Saints canonised since 1962; it also concerns the Commission's decision on who may act as a substitute for a subdeacon at the Solemn Mass, in the absence of a deacon or priest.

Welcome to the Saint Bede Studio

Welcome to this Web log for the Saint Bede Studio.

Inspired by Benedictine spirituality, the Saint Bede Studio is dedicated to providing dignified, beautiful garments for the use of the Sacred Liturgy.

This is the Studio web address:

On these pages, you will find photographs of newly-made vestments as well as designs for church decorations, furnishings etc.

You will also find postings concerning Sacred Liturgy and Architecture.