Saturday 26 December 2009

To all readers of this Blog, friends and customers of the Saint Bede Studio, my best wishes for a Blessed Christmas, filled with the graces of this Holy Season.

Photographs of Christmas Matins celebrated at S' Aloysius Church, Caulfield (Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia). Photographs taken by Dr Chris Steward.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

On raising the chasuble at the Elevations

In the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the minister (deacon or altar server) is directed to raise the chasuble slightly in his left hand as the celebrant elevates the Sacred Host and then the Chalice. This direction is given in the Ritus Servandus VIII,8; the Caeremoniale Episcoporum II, viii and a decision of the Congregation of Sacred Rites no 3535.

What is the origin of this practice? It dates from that period when chasubles were voluminous and constrained the celebrant from raising his arms above his head. Lifting the lower right hand corner of the chasuble actually enables the celebrant a greater movement of the arms. Thus, the origin of this ceremonial action is purely practical. Much has been written about mystic and symbolic meanings as being the origin of this action, all of which is complete nonsense.

The ceremonial books direct that the raising of the chasuble be a very subtle action. It was never intended that the chasuble be raised half-way up the celebrant's back or - worse still - be held up by both hands of the minister, making the chasuble seem like some fantastical ecclesiastical sail. Most assuredly such exaggerated movements are distracting both to the celebrant and to the congregation.

If the chasuble is not very ample at all, there is even more reason for its raising at the Elevation to be a very modest action: just a couple of inches at most. Furthermore, this gesture only accompanies the actual Elevations, and not the celebrant's accompanying genuflections.

Attached is a beautiful photograph of a Low Mass celebrated at Prinknash Abbey (UK) in 1940, illustrating perfectly how it should be done.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Maria Regina Vestments

The Saint Bede Studio was commissioned by Saint Mary's Parish, Charleston, South Carolina, to prepare a Solemn Mass set of vestments based upon the Maria Regina design. The Pastor of Saint Mary's is also the Rector of the Charleston Cathedral.

The Studio regularly receives enquiries for the Maria Regina chasuble, which is derived from a design of AWN Pugin.

Pictured adjacent are parts of the set: the chasuble, cope and a tunic.

Click on the photographs for enlarged views.


Friday 11 December 2009

A Rose by any other name but pink

Twice a year, the Church breaks the tone of its penitential seasons by the use of rose-coloured vestments. Rose-coloured vestments were never commonplace and they still are not. Nevertheless, you will find various pronouncements these days (usually on websites) about what the real or authentic shade of rose is which is to be used for vestments.

Newsflash: there is no official shade of Rose designated by the Church, nor has there ever been. The reason for this is rather simple: only in the last century did the process of dyeing fabric become sufficiently sophisticated to ensure that much the same shade of a colour emerged from one batch of fabric dyeing to another.

Many different colours have been deemed by the Church as acceptable as liturgical Rose. Some of these are a salmon shade; some a silvery-pink, almost mushroom-colour; some close to what we would call Bishop's purple or fuchsia.

Another thing is certain: Bubblegum Pink is not Rose, nor has it been a traditional variation for use on these days. Whilst not intending to get into the argument as to whether the use of a such a vibrant pink is a fitting colour for a man to wear, Bubblegum Pink certainly manifests a lamentable lack of liturgical good taste.

At the Blog, The New Liturgical Movement, we find a number of interesting vestments in that shade of Rose commonly found in Italy in centuries past: a salmon colour. Go there and take a look.

Adjacent are three pictures of other shades of Rose. One is a set of vestments worn by Pope Paul VI on Laetare Sunday, 1978 (photographs of L'Osservatore Romano). The vestment is made from dupion silk of a very subdued mushroom-pink, with overtones of silver. Ornamenting it is a column almost fuchsia in colour.

The other picture is the cope made by the Saint Bede Studio for the Latin Mass Apostolate in Melbourne. It has overtones of subdued red in it, yet decidedly unlike the colours used for Liturgical Red. This cope is ornamented with a brocade of forest green, and a braid of Gothic foliage ornament.

Another set of Rose vestments made last year by the Studio for the Cathedral of Atlanta, Georgia can be seen here.


Wednesday 2 December 2009

Penitential Vestments continued

UPDATED 4th December

Continuing today with another work of art depicting sacred vestments and in particular the colour used for Penitential Days and Seasons.

Shewn adjacent is a vignette from a larger painting titled Scenes from the Life of Saint Augustine. It was painted in Bruges around 1490 by the artist who is referred to as The Master of Saint Augustine. This painting is housed now in the marvellous setting of The Cloisters, from whose website I was able to obtain this enlarged view.

Saint Augustine is shewn here being ordained a priest. What Augustine, the bishop and the lesser ministers are wearing is typical of the style of vestments found throughout the Low Countries (what we would now identify as the Netherlands and Belgium) in the 15th century. Let us examine that in detail.

All four are wearing well-gathered albs, which are decorated with rectangles of damask (called apparels) along the lower edge on the front and the back and also on the cuffs. Note also, how closely-fitting the sleeves of the albs are, and that the apparels of the ministers match the violet colour of the priest's chasuble. Apparelled albs and apparelled amices like this were worn all over Europe (including in Rome) throughout the mediaeval period.

An exceedingly slender maniple and stole is worn by Augustine (a form typical of England and Northern Europe) which are made from the same fabric as the apparels of his alb and amice.

Both the chasubles are decorated with the Y shape of orphrey. Although this form of decoration was centuries old when this work was painted, it was more commonly found in some places and less in others. It was not as common in Germany and southern Europe.

The ornament of the Augustine's chasuble appears to be tabernacle-like work of saints, embroidered on a dark background. This contrasts beautifully with the lighter violet colour of the chasuble. In our previous post, shewing Mass being offered in Siena Cathedral, we find the a very similar colour scheme of chasuble and ornament. The colour is blue-ish and not too dark. Note how much more penitential and striking in character these sombre orphreys are compared with the all-too-common use of gold on purple or violet vestments: a decorative scheme which displays a real lack of imagination.

Both chasubles are semi-conical in form, or perhaps more precisely a modified version of the semi-conical shape. Were Augustine and the bishop pictured to have their arms by their sides instead of raised, the chasubles they are wearing would fall just about to their wrists. This is a more abbreviated width from earlier centuries. The curving folds from the bottom of the chasuble were produced when the shoulders of the vestments were very steeply sloped: quite unlike the poncho-like form of the modern chasuble and the sandwich-boards effect of the fiddleback chasuble.

The bishop is shewn in Pontificals. Beneath his chasuble of scarlet-red is seen an ornamented golden dalmatic. The tunic cannot be seen. He is wearing a precious mitre; the horizontal and vertical ornamental bands are worked onto a base of gold fabric and enriched with precious stones.

Lastly, a word on the colours of the vestments. The more modern concept of matching colours did not exist in the mediaeval period, when the whole scheme of the Liturgical Colours (as we know them now) was far less developed. A practical reason for this "mix and match" was the lack of available fabric in matching colours. But that does not fully account for the more familiar approach we see in paintings and illuminations of the mediaeval period, where a chasuble was made up from one fabric, but the stole, maniple and apparels were made up from another, and usually contrasting, fabric. What a varied and pleasing effect this produces!

Thanks to Brother Stephen O. Cist for helping to clarify the scene depicted in this vignette.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Saturday 28 November 2009

The colour for vestments in the Penitential Seasons

A couple of years ago, I researched and posted an article on the use of penitential colours for the Seasons of Advent, Lent &c. That post may be read here and here, so I don't intend to rehearse its findings.

Instead, always most interesting, an historic work of art to illustrate the practice of our forebears. This work (adjacent) was painted by an artist known as the Master of Osservanza in the year 1440 and depicts a Low Mass being offered at a side chapel in the Siena Cathedral (Italy).

Some observations. The chasuble being worn by the celebrant is violet: in other words, much the same colour as the flower "violets". It is a blue-ish colour, not purple and it is not too dark either. The chasuble is the full conical shape and is ornamented with a simple column-orphrey of dark fabric (possibly even black). Most likely, the front of the chasuble would have been decorated with the familiar "tau". The celebrant is wearing decorative apparels on his alb and amice, which match the colour of the chasuble's ornament. That is a very typical practice of the Mediaeval period. Note, too, the very full folds of the alb.

We see, also, that the boy assisting the celebrant is wearing a full-length surplice, according to the style typically found in Renaissance Italy. Those who claim that such surplices are "Church of England" practice should note this well.

Lastly, the altar itself. It is clothed in a dark antependium or altar frontal, ornamented with scarlet red. On the altar is a Crucifix and a single candle. Although it may seem peculiar that there is but a single candle instead of a pair, it might be remarked that not until the 16th century was it a usual practice to have a pair of candlesticks on an altar.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

New vestments: Rome

A seminarist from one of the Roman Colleges commissioned the Saint Bede Studio to prepare a Solemn Mass set of vestments in the style of the 16th century. The set, which is to be used for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, comprises a chasuble, dalmatic and tunic, cope &c. Adjacent is shewn the chasuble and dalmatic.

The vestments are made from an ivory and straw-coloured brocade and ornamented with a copper and old-gold-coloured silk damask. They are fully lined in wine-red silk taffeta.

Although chasubles after the style of this period have frequently appeared on these pages, this is the first dalmatic of the period which we have made.

In the Archbasilica of S' Mary's Major, Rome is a display of historic vestments and recently, we included a photograph of a chasuble from that collection owned by S' Charles Borromeo. Adjacent to those vestments, is a dalmatic from the same period; it is shewn in the picture below.

By the 16th century, less and less was a distinction to be found between the form of the dalmatic and that of the tunic (the vestment worn by the subdeacon). Exactly why this is the case is unclear. The tunic came to be of the same size, shape and ornament as the dalmatic.

Some things are noteworthy about the dalmatic shewn in the adjacent picture. Firstly, it is very ample: a real garment, which would have extended almost to the wrist of the wearer and well below the knees. Secondly, the sleeves are sewn together, so that the wearer must pass his arm through them, according to the ancient form of the dalmatic. Notably absent from this dalmatic is the execrable degradation (originating in France and spreading throughout Europe during the Baroque), whereby the sleeves were not joined together but became large flaps of stiffened fabric moving about freely. Sad to say, brand new dalmatics for the Extraordinary Form are being made now in this debased manner, in the misguided belief that they are somehow "Traditional".

Secondly, we may observe the ornamentation, which by the 16th century had become somewhat stylised and continued to be so, typically, until well into the 20th century. The ancient practice was to decorate the dalmatic with two parallel lines called clavi (plural), running from either side of the collar of the vestment to its hem. In the mediaeval period, decorative rectangles of fabric called apparels began to be inserted in between the clavi, usually at the chest level, but also on the cuffs of the dalmatic. The dalmatic in the picture shews a later development: the clavi are very narrow and instead of a decorative apparel in between them, further parallel lines of braid are placed, at right angles to the clavi. Sometimes coats of arms and other devices were embroidered in this space.

Lastly may be observed the tassles. The origin of these had nothing to do with ornament. They were cords used to tie together the front and the back of the dalmatic at the neckline. Splitting the dalmatic in this manner at the shoulder seam made it much easier to put the garment on over the head. From something practical the tassles developed into something highly decorative - and often impractical.

Click on the pictures for an enlarged view.


Wednesday 4 November 2009

Feast of S' Charles Borromeo

In the Calendars of the Roman Rite, 4th November is set down as the Feast of S' Charles Borromeo (Cardinal-Archbishop of Milan 1560-1584). If Saint Charles, were alive today I suspect he would be regarded as hero to those who cherish the traditions of the Church. An important figure at the Council of Trent and confidant of Popes, he was anxious to preserve traditions and not allow fashion, false doctrine or laxity to push Tradition to one side. As Archbishop of Milan he wrote and legislated in minute detail about the Sacred Liturgy and everything associated with it.

Saint Charles laid down regulations about the dimensions of vestments for the Sacred Liturgy because, it would seem, he was concerned that the form of the vestments, which had been handed down for centuries, was being cast aside in favour of something convenient and “fashionable”. The chasuble, derived from the Latin word for “a little house” had been for centuries an ample garment. In the 15th and 16th centuries, there had been significant divergence from this Tradition, however, resulting in a form of chasuble that wasn’t ample, but cut right back so that it comprised a sort of narrow pendant, front and back, on the wearer. We know this form of chasuble as the “Roman” or “fiddleback” chasuble, and some claim that this is the form of the chasuble that is truly “traditional”. But Borromeo didn’t think that: he thought it represented a break with Tradition. And he specified the minimum size to which he expected chasubles to conform. They were to be at least 54 inches (138cm) wide and, at the back, they were to reach down almost to the heels of the wearer. Saint Charles wasn't attempting to determine how a chasuble should be decorated, he was simply trying to preserve a minimum standard for the dimensions of the chasuble.

As a vestment-maker, I am blessed to receive frequent enquiries from newly-ordained priests and deacons and more often than not, they are interested in obtaining that style of vestment used by S' Charles Borromeo and S' Philip Neri. Happily, these young men are not interested in partisan views of various commentators about the revival of interest in such vestments.

A greeting on the Feast of Saint Charles to all priest-customers of the Saint Bede Studio.

Monday 2 November 2009

All Souls' Day: Vestments for Masses of the Dead

Complementing a chasuble completed earlier in the year, the Saint Bede Studio was commissioned to make this black cope and matching stole, designated Absolve. It is made of black dupion silk and fully lined in olive-green cotton. The orphrey and hood is formed from an ecclesiastical brocade in black and gold.


Sunday 1 November 2009

All Saints' Day: Ohio

Some months ago, Father Martin Fox of Piqua, Ohio USA approached us to make a set of vestments for use in his Parish, based on the familiar pictures of Saint Philip Neri. The result is shewn in the picture at the left. This chasuble is of gold silk damask and is ornamented with the same damask in copper and gold. The effect is very rich.

The Saint Bede Studio developed its own interpretation of this 16th century style of chasuble, based upon extensive research, but adapted for modern use. It is not an attempt to exactly reproduce 16th century exemplars. This Philip Neri chasuble has proved a particularly popular style with young priests.

Read what Father Fox wrote about his new vestments.

Click on the picture for an enlarged view.


Wednesday 21 October 2009

Lord to whom shall we turn?

Some thoughts on “presidency” and posture for prayer

This article was originally written for publication on the blogs "The New Liturgical Movement" and "Rorate Caeli".

Although there is a great deal of discussion now and a body of scholarship concerning the revival of the celebration of Mass ad orientem, I have found that this discussion is almost entirely limited to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Yet, the principle concerns the orientation of Liturgical prayer throughout the entirety of the Mass. Amongst the many innovations introduced after the Council was a provision (Ritus Servandus 1965, no. 23) for the celebrant to pray the Kyrie, Gloria, Collect and Creed at a sedilia, rather than at the altar (as had previously obtained). This provision, of course, is derived from the practice where a bishop celebrates Mass solemnly, either at the faldstool or at the throne. The 1965 provision was taken a step further with the introduction of the new Missal in 1970.

Dom Emmanuel of the Benedictine Abbey of Le Barroux gave a paper to the 1997 CIEL Conference about this topic. In a comprehensive analysis, which discusses firstly the position of the celebrant during the Kyrie, Gloria, Collect and Creed and secondly, the celebrant during the readings from the Scripture, he reached this conclusion:

Do we find that the law in force until 1962 is universally attested in the history of the Roman Mass, or do we find that there are exceptions? Having finished our enquiry we may now answer this question: as far we can judge from the texts currently available, the Roman Mass, both according to the use of the [Roman] Curia and those of the dioceses and religious orders, show us that the simple priest is at the altar for the Gloria, the Collect and the Creed, and that this is the case until 1962. So the Ordo Missae of 1965 departs from the common (and almost universal) practice up to that point when it prescribes that the simple priest may carry out these functions at his seat. For the readings the celebrant goes to his chair near the altar. By having the celebrant positioned at the sedilia for the readings, the Ordo Missae of 1965 (and then that of 1970) do not depart from what we know of Roman usage (taken as a whole) through the centuries.

Dom Emmanuel's study and of course many other works on liturgical history, reveal that in the early church (and we know that from archaeological evidence as well the ancient churches which still exist) the Cathedra of the bishop was mostly placed in the apse, behind the altar, with benches for the presbyters on either side. This was a position, as Dom Emmanuel concludes, which emphasised the jurisdiction of the Bishop. He argues, however, that it never was customary in the Western liturgy for the priest-celebrant to occupy such a position, because he did not have jurisdiction. Instead, as Dom Emmanuel discusses, the priest celebrant recited the Kyrie, Gloria and Collect at or near to the altar ad orientem. Similarly, a bishop who did not have jurisdiction occupied a seat on the right of the altar, but read those prayers from that position ad orientem (for example, the rites of Pontifical Mass at the faldstool according to the Extraordinary Form).

Leaving aside the issue of the priest-celebrant facing the people at the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist (for which there is some precedent in liturgical history which was used as the basis for the introduction of "Mass facing the people"), what I would like identify is that an entirely new concept has been introduced into the 1970 Mass, namely, the priest-celebrant as Presider. To me, this seems nowhere more prominent in the New Order of Mass than in the Introductory Rite: a rite which is an innovation in the history of the Western liturgy. Furthermore, this role of Presider is codified by the instruction on where the chair of the celebrant is to be placed within the sanctuary: namely at the head of the sanctuary in an apse; in short behind the altar (GIRM 271):

The chair of the celebrant should indicate his role of presiding over the assembly and of leading the prayers. Hence the most suitable position is at the head of the sanctuary facing the people, unless the construction of the building or other circumstances prevents this; for instance, if communication between the priest and the assembly of the faithful is made difficult because of too great a distance.

Both the position of the chair of the priest-celebrant (which emphasises "presidence") and the offering of prayers (facing the congregation) from that chair, instead of before the altar, represent a break with Liturgical Tradition. I would like to suggest that this particular break with Tradition has largely facilitated the widespread distortion where right from the beginning of the Liturgy the priest becomes more of a compere or emcee, rather than a celebrant.

What might be done, to recapture the Church's tradition at this point in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass? In many places, this has begun already to happen, where priests have felt uncomfortable with the prominence of their (often elevated) chairs, and have opted to place the chair at the side of the sanctuary in front of the altar, in the manner of sedilia. I have also read where some priests with chairs in the position just described, have turned slightly toward the altar (rather than toward the congregation) for the Penitential rite, Gloria and Collect. All of this would seem to be able to take place within the current framework of the Ordinary Form. It also does not exclude the celebrant giving a brief introduction to the Mass, but it might be hoped that this is quite distinct from the prayers of the Rite itself.

We might also note here – although it is slightly separate from this discussion - that recently the Papal altar has begun to return to Traditional arrangements, by the placement of a central altar Cross and six candlesticks.

What about a reform to re-instate the tradition? Something like this (this is an opinion): The celebrant might conduct the Penitential Rite ad orientem "at the foot of the altar", then go up to the altar for the Kyrie, Gloria and Collect. Then he could go to the sedilia and sit down for the reading of the Scripture. He would bless the deacon (and incense, if it used) at the altar, not the sedilia. After the Gospel, he would return to the altar for the Creed and General Intercessions (both ad orientem). Note that these ceremonial positions might be used even if the Liturgy of the Eucharist continued to be celebrated versus populum (especially if the arrangement of central altar Cross and flanking candlesticks is observed). In fact, this might be a gradual way of reintroducing ad orientem to the entire Mass.

Please note that this article is Copyright and may not be reproduced in any electronic or paper-based media without the prior permission of the author.

Thursday 8 October 2009

New Vestments: New York


The Saint Bede Studio was commissioned by a young priest of the Archdiocese of New York USA to make two Low Mass sets in the "Saint Philip Neri" style. The attached photographs shew the completed vestments, one in red and gold, the other green. The vestments were made from an English ecclesiastical damask.

The priest writes about receiving the vestments, following his return from a trip to Rome:

Unfortunately, each priest in my house has now developed an affinity for them! They look great, and are being used by several priests on a daily basis. I was thrilled that some of the priests I live with are using them, for it proves yet again that beautiful ecclesiastical work is possible in our day and attractive to the eye.

While in Rome, I scouted the vestment scene, and I noticed that Pope Benedict has had a clear impact on the Church in this regard - each company is delving into the "Roman" style again, yet I find nothing as beautiful or practical for both Usages as your design on the "Philip Neri."

An enlarged view may be seen by clicking on each image.


Carthusian Vestments: Updated

Yesterday at the blog The New Liturgical Movement, a series of interesting images were reproduced of the celebration of Mass according to the Carthusian Use. One is of more obvious interest to us here, the frontispiece of a Carthusian Missal, printed in Lyon in 1713. Adjacent is a cropped version of that frontispiece. This would appear to depict the celebrant on the step of the altar giving the minister the absolution after the Confiteor.

UPDATE: An earlier edition of this Missal, published in the Duchy of Savoy in 1679 has the same frontispiece. I suspect that the image itself was engraved earlier in the 17th  century.

The celebrant is shewn wearing a ground-length linen alb, with quite close-fitting sleeves: very typical of the period. The chasuble is quite interesting as depicted, because it is very long, reaching almost the full length of the alb (as directed by Saint Charles Borromeo). It is also pointed, front and back, which is more reminiscent of the mediaeval chasubles of Northern Europe.

This chasuble differs from that style of chasuble shewn in the various paintings and sculptures of Saint Philip Neri (one is shewn adjacent), which have a rounded finish along the lower edge, back and front. This chasuble is also not quite as wide as these "Philip Neri" chasubles, not reaching the elbow.

Friday 17 July 2009

Pontifical Mass of Bishop Elliott, auxiliary of Melbourne

The auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, the Most Rev'd Peter J Elliott, celebrated Pontifical Mass at the Faldstool in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite on Sunday 12th July at Saint Aloysius' church, Caulfield. The Bishop also conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on nine candidates from the Melbourne Latin Mass Community.

The vestments, mitres and altar frontal used on the occasion were designed by the Saint Bede Studio.

Following are several photographs taken by Dr. Chris Steward. Assisting the Bishop are Father Glen Tattersall (assistant priest) and Father John McDaniels, (deacon), chaplains to the Melbourne Archdiocese Latin Mass Community.

Please click on each image for an enlarged view.

The preparation of incense:

Before the Introit:

At the Gradual:


Before the Offertory:

Incensation of the Bishop:

Tuesday 30 June 2009

"Flavigny" Conical Chasuble

For a deacon who was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Saint Bede Studio was commissioned to prepare a chasuble according to the ancient "conical" form.

This chasuble was made from a silk damask of crimson red and ornamented with a brocade in burgundy and gold, outlined with a braid in gold. The lining is of olive green.

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 shew 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.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Sunday 28 June 2009

Solemn Mass at Prinknash Abbey

A recent post about Prinknash abbey in England on the blog The New Liturgical Movement reminded me of some well-known photographs in the ceremonial study The Celebration of Mass.

This study, prepared by Canon JB O'Connell (who also edited later editions of Fortescue's The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described), was first published in 1945 in three volumes. One volume, studying the ceremonies of Solemn Mass, featured a number of photographs taken in the Abbey Church.

Canon O'Connell, in the introduction to his book, gives an explanation:

By the very great kindness of the Right Reverend Wilfrid Upson OSB, Abbot of Prinknash Abbey, Gloucester (England), and the monks of his monastery, a number of photographs were taken in the (temporary) Abbey church to celebrate the chief ceremonies of High Mass.

The photographs, some of which are reproduced here, were taken by the Walwin Studio of Gloucester, probably in the year 1941. As the article at the New Liturgical Movement has noted, the Prinknash Community recently returned to residence in the original Abbey and the Chapel pictured in these photographs is once again the Abbey Church.

The photographs are intended as a staged illustration of the ceremonies of Solemn Mass: obviously it was not an actual Mass which was photographed. The 1st photograph shews the preparation of incense at the beginning of Mass; the 2nd photograph shews the singing of the Gospel; the 3rd photograph shews the ablutions after Holy Communion and the 4th photograph shews the Blessing. Each of these photographs may be clicked on for an enlarged view.

A number of things may be commented upon. The first is the excellent architecture of this tiny chapel, illustrating that beautiful and proportionate things can be created in confined spaces. Especially noteworthy are the tasteful statue niches and the blind arcading and tracery around the walls of the sanctuary.

The second noteworthy thing is the vestments and paraments. The vestments are very ample, the chasuble being semi-conical, and are decorated in a mediaeval manner. Observe that the dalmatic and tunic are ornamented in a completely different manner from each other: a practice which, unfortunately, ceased to be commonplace from the Baroque era onward. Observe also that the chasuble is decorated exactly in the Roman manner: a massive "Tau" on the frontal of the chasuble and a simple column on the back. This style of ornament has been employed continuously in Rome for a millenium.

An interesting touch, and very monastic, is the modest scale of the candlesticks on the High altar. Lastly, it would be of interest to include these explanatory remarks by Canon O'Connell:

By special privilege of the Holy See, the monks of Prinknash Abbey, though belonging to the Subiaco Congregation of the Benedictine Order, wear a white habit. The tonsure of these Religious is the same as that in use in the Carthusian Order. For the purposes of the photographs, the monks who appear in them were good enough to lay aside for the moment some of their monastic usages in order to conform in full to the Roman rite. Accordingly, for example, in the photographs the lesser ministers wear the surplice instead of the amice, alb and girdle, which is the monastic practice; the Deacon and Subdeacon kneel for the blessing, instead of merely bowing, as solemnly professed monks do in their monastery. It will be noticed that the monks are wearing the monastic hood with the special type of amice that fits over it; and the Sacred Ministers are clad in vestments which are designed and made at the Abbey by members of the community.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

The Golden Fleece

Amongst the treasures preserved at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna are vestments and paraments of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Amongst them is this chasuble, made in the 1st half of the 15th century.

This vestment shews the type of modifications which were made to the form of the chasuble in order for it to support lavish decoration. Gone are the steeply-sloping shoulders of the conical and semi-conical forms, modified to allow this vestment to sit on the wearer without much drapery. Even so, the opening for the head is identical with that of the more ancient form of the chasuble, typically made without shoulder seams.

Measuring approximately 125cm in width and 140cm in length, the chasuble would have extended beyond the elbows and almost to the ankles on a man of 5'8" height (173cm). Interestingly, this coincides with the specifications for the dimensions of the chasuble set down by Saint Charles Borromeo in the 16th century.

The website of the
Kunsthistorisches (from which the photograph is reproduced) gives this description of the embroidery work:

The chasuble of these liturgical vestments displays what appear to be three different layers, superimposed on top of each other and overlapping, but in fact this is all a single layer of precisely planned embroidery work. The basis is formed by a geometrical honeycomb structure with chapel-like compartments enclosing figures of angels, a device also found in the other garments of these vestments. The so-called chasuble cross appears to be superimposed on top of this, creating the impression of woven brocade. On top of these two planes is a third layer, consisting of appliquéd figures: on the front of the chasuble the Baptism of Christ is depicted, while the back shows the Transfiguration of Christ. The process of interconnecting these three planes, with their different illusory effects, is a remarkable achievement on the part of the embroiderers: they understood how to resolve the conflict between the chasuble's function as a liturgical garment and its role as a vehicle for a pictorial scheme. The masterful exploitation of all the possibilities afforded by the art of embroidery is particularly evident in the execution of the Transfiguration of Christ. In contrast to the needle painting used in the other vestments for depicting flesh tones, or nué embroidery is employed here for Christ's face, illuminating it in red and gold hues and perfectly expressing in visual terms the appearance of light described in the Bible ("[...] and his face did shine as the sun").

Thanks to The Lion and the Cardinal for the post on these vestments.

Monday 15 June 2009

Saint Martin chasuble

The Saint Bede Studio has developed this vestment, called "Saint Martin" for those who prefer a very ample chasuble. "Saint Martin" can be made in fabrics of deep shades of green, or red or purple and is derived from the semi-conical form of the mediaeval period. A brocade in burgundy and gold in the traditional "tau" form ornaments the chasuble. The chasuble is lined in a lighter shade of the base fabric.


Wednesday 10 June 2009

The Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord

It is truly fitting and just, right and profitable for our salvation, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Lord, holy Father, almighty, eternal God, through Christ our Lord, who, having set aside the empty signs of animal victims, commemorated his Body and Blood for us in sacrifice, in order that the pure oblation, which alone was acceptable to you, may be offered to your name in every place. Therefore, in the mystery of his unsearchable wisdom and unbounded love, that which once he accomplished completely on the Cross, he does not cease miraculously to produce, he himself offering it and he himself the Offering. And, having become a single offering with him, he invites us to the sacred banquet in which he himself is received as food, in which the memory of his Passion is recalled, the soul filled with grace, and a foretaste of the future is to us given. And so, with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations, and all the strength of the heavenly host, we sing without ceasing this hymn to your glory:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of mighty hosts! The heavens and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Bless'd is he who comes in the Lord's name. Hosanna in the highest.

This is the translation of the Preface of the Blessed Sacrament prepared by the Saint Bede Studio for the Order of Mass published by Ignatius Press. Some editions of the 1962 Missal included this preface, before it was incorporated in editions of the Missal produced between 1964-1969. It was not included in the 1970 Missale Romanum.

The translation and illustration may not be reproduced without prior approval.

Sunday 7 June 2009

The Most Holy Trinity

It is truly fitting and just, right and profitable for our salvation, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Lord, holy Father, almighty, eternal God. With your only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, you are one God, one Lord, not in the singleness of one Person, but in a Trinity of one substance. For, whatever we believe through your revelation about your glory, the same also we believe about your Son and about the Holy Spirit, without distinction or difference. So that in acknowledging the true and eternal Godhead, we adore each individual person and, at the same time, their one substance and their equal majesty: which the Angels, the Archangels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim all praise, never ceasing to cry out with one voice:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of mighty hosts! The heavens and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Bless'd is he who comes in the Lord's name. Hosanna in the highest.

This is the translation of the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity prepared by the Saint Bede Studio for the Order of Mass published by Ignatius Press.

The translation and illustration may not be reproduced without prior approval.

Friday 29 May 2009

Vestments for Pentecost

A Greeting to all readers, after these days of great Feasts: the Ascension, Our Lady Help of Christians, Saint Philip Neri, Saint Bede the Venerable (patron saint of our Studio), Saint Augustine of Canterbury and lastly, Pentecost.

Father Mitchell Beachey of Quebec, Canada, commisioned the Studio to prepare a set of vestments for Pentecost. Father Beachey chose to have the set prepared in the "Philip Neri" style. The vestments were made of a silk damask of deep-red colour, ornamented with a brocade of dark red and gold.

Having received the vestments this week, Father Beachey wrote to us:

Just finished opening and trying on the new chasuble. I love it. This is absolutely beautiful and well made. In making such works of art, you add so much to the beauty and sanctity of the Church's worship. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The St. Philip Neri style, now that I have actually seen it and wore it, is the perfect chasuble for priests who celebrate both the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form. Although I like the fiddleback or Roman style for the EF, I do not it like for the OF celebrated versus populum because the front of the Roman vestment does not lend itself very well to versus populum. The St. Philip Neri chasuble is perfect for both ad orientem and versus populum.

Click on the photograph for an enlarged view.

Monday 18 May 2009

Oratory of Bishop Peter Elliott

The auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, the Most Rev'd Peter Elliott (pictured at left), well-known as a scholar of Sacred Liturgy and ceremonial, commissioned the Saint Bede Studio to do a "make-over" of the Oratory of his private residence.

The Oratory is very small and has a low ceiling, but is well-lit by colourful leadlights comprising one wall. At the other end of the room, the bishop had placed a newly-made timber altar upon a one-step platform. The bishop asked for the altar to be enhanced with a frontal and also a reredos.

The Oratory being so small-scale, a very simple design was prepared. The wall behind the altar was painted a crimson red (subsequently to be stencilled) and framed with a timber reredos, which went right up to the ceiling. A frontal of Coronation tapestry was made, ornamented with a superfrontal of rich crimson with gold tassling.

The (not quite complete) results can be seen in the photographs of before and after.

NB This article is copyright and may not be reproduced on other internet sites without prior permission.

(click on photograph to enlarge):

(click on photograph to enlarge):

Saturday 16 May 2009

Ordination Vestments II

An ordinand of the Archdiocese of Sydney commissioned the Saint Bede Studio to make a "Philip Neri" style chasuble for his Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood on 30th April.

These vestments are made from a soft-gold coloured renaissance-inspired damask, ornamented with a silk damask of burgundy and old gold and lined in terra-cotta red.

Click on the picture for an enlarged view.


Tuesday 12 May 2009

12th May

Congratulations to Father Raymond Blake, Pastor of Saint Mary Magdalene's Parish, Brighton UK, who celebrates his Jubilee of Ordination today, 12th May. Ad multos annos!

A chasuble was commissioned for Father's Jubilee, shewn in the adjacent photograph.

This chasuble, in the "Philip Neri" style, was made from a silk damask in ivory, and old gold featuring an extremely large pattern. It was ornamented with a silk damask in old rose and old gold.

Click on the photograph for a larger image.


Sunday 10 May 2009

Easter Vestments

The Dean of a Catholic Cathedral in USA commissioned the Saint Bede Studio to make a special chasuble for Easter Day. The Dean requested that the design of the vestments have some elements to link it with Passiontide.

A cloth-gold brocade was chosen as the ground fabric for the chasuble, so that the vestment would catch the light dramatically in the large Gothic-Revival Cathedral. This brocade is ornamented with quatrefoils and crosses, and stylised crowns of thorns in burgundy. Another brocade of crimson-red and gold was chosen for the orphreys of the chasuble. This brocade features crowns in gold, chosen to represent Christ's Kingship. Lastly, the chasuble was lined in a cotton of deep purple.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Saturday 9 May 2009

First Mass

On Thursday 30th April, four deacons of the Archdiocese of Sydney were ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in Saint Mary's Cathedral, Sydney. The following evening, one of the new priests, Father Andrew Benton, celebrated his First Mass as a Missa Solemnis in the Extraordinary Form at the Cerretti Chapel, Manly. This magnificent chapel has been until recent years the chapel of the Archdiocesan Seminary. Vestments used on this occasion were designed by the Saint Bede Studio. Below are some photographs of the Mass (courtesy of Dr Chris Steward, Melbourne).

Click on the image for an enlarged view

At the Collect:

At the Offertory:

Preparing Incense:

At the Pax:

At the Blessing:

Friday 3 April 2009

Rorate Caeli Blogspot

Around two years ago, the editor of the site Rorate Caeli invited me to be a contributor on matters liturgical. This Blog is run by Father Demets FSSP, although there are a number of pseudonymn-contributors.

More recently, I have noticed a decidedly bigoted tone marking articles on this Blog. A low-point was reached yesterday in a mocking, deplorable article about Pope Paul VI, which was posted by "New Catholic". I have made known my views about this article directly to Rorate Caeli.

I would like friends and clients of the Saint Bede Studio to be very clear that I do not support and am not responsible for the Editorial policy of Rorate Caeli. I am a guest contributor. But I will think twice about posting any article on my own account on that blog in the future (Rorate Caeli have taken care of that now on my behalf: cancelling my access to the site).

Please make this little note clear to others who may associate the Saint Bede Studio with "Rorate Caeli".

Those running the Rorate Caeli blogspot have now blocked my access rights to that site.  Presumably those who differ with their Editorial policy are no longer welcome.  Thus maybe discerned the true spirit of "Rorate Caeli".