Tuesday 25 September 2012

A Moveable Feast

Apse of the Karaganda Cathedral.

Recently, we have seen on some Blogs a coverage of the construction and consecration of the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Karaganda, Saint Joseph's.  What appears to be an historic altarpiece has been installed as the High altar and focal point of the Cathedral.  It is an extremely impressive ensemble visually, constructed of timber,  polychromed and gilded.

The two altars sit in harmonious proximity to each other
and appear almost as one unit.

Standing in front of the High altar is another altar,freestanding, which has been the subject of some discussion in the Comboxes.  A timber altar, with rather beautifully done carving, is the altar at which Mass is intended to be celebrated.  But it is not fixed: it sits on a splendid carpet at the same level as the High altar, and the whole thing could readily be moved out of the way.  But this altar was consecrated and a rather ingenious method of construction was then revealed.  Approximately two-thirds of the mensa was a slab of marble, incised with consecration crosses and set into the timber table of the altar.  This stone itself was consecrated by the Dean of the Sacred College, Cardinal Sodano during Mass on 8th September.  Beneath the mensa was placed a small house containing the sacred relics.

The large marble stone set into the mensa of the freestanding altar.
According to the old Pontifical, such an arrangement was not permitted for an altar, but the revised Ritual Books are more flexible.  The General Instructions of the Roman Missal no. 263 says: According to the Church's traditional practice and the altar's symbolism, the table of a fixed altar should be of stone and indeed of natural stone. But at the discretion of the conference of bishops some other solid, becoming, and well-crafted material may be used.  The Ceremonial of Bishops and the Code of Canon Law restate this instruction.  Thus, it is not uncommon and perfectly licit, for a consecrated altar to be made entirely of wood or metal, and sometimes, as in the case of the Karaganda Cathedral, a stone mensa is supported by a structure of timber or metal.

Detail of the High altar shewing the patina of the old paintwork.
This flexibility is surely an advantage when there is an existing High altar intact in a Church, but yet not usually the altar at which Mass is offered.  How often do we see churches with two altars sitting one in front of the other?  Usually, the two sit in uncomfortable proximity to each other, vying for attention.  But not at Karaganda.  Congratulations to those who devised the ingenious solution.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

A relic house about to be placed beneath the freestanding altar.

Please note that the images are the copyright of the Diocese of Karaganda.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Saint Camillus de Lellis

A kindly priest customer of the Studio sent us this rare portrait of Saint Camillus de Lellis (1550-1614), co-Patron Saint of Nurses.  Saint Camillus spent most of his life caring for the sick. Read more about him here.

Saint Camillus was ordained a priest in 1584 by the last Catholic English bishop, Lord Thomas Goldwell

The adjacent image of Saint Camillus is said to be only contemporaneous portrait of him and shews him during the Offertory of the Mass.  The Saint is wearing a style of chasuble common in the sixteenth century and often associated with Saint Philip Neri. Saint Philip was a spiritual mentor of Saint Camillus.

The chasuble is made from an ivory-coloured silk brocade interwoven with gold, but perhaps its most interest feature is its orphrey ornamentation.  The orphrey appears to be formed from a woven braid in colours of black and gold on an off-white base.  Most interesting is the design of this braid, being a series of interlinked geometric motifs: quite unlike the style of ornament found on other chasubles of this period and in the two centuries following.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Puginesque vestments

The Saint Bede Studio recently completed sets of vestments for a priest of the Archdiocese of Sydney.  The vestments were made in the more stylised cut of the 16th century, which is sometimes referred to as Gothic Revival.

Each of these vestments was made from an English ecclesiastical brocade and ornamented with a different orphrey braid based on the work of AWN Pugin.  The three vestments - in crimson red, ivory and green are shewn in the adjacent photographs.

An apparelled amice is employed with each of these vestments.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com

Monday 10 September 2012

Simple Cope

Above is pictured a cope recently produced by the Studio.  It is a simple vestment, made from a cotton jacquard and ornamented with an English ecclesiastical brocade in colours of ivory and straw.  The cope is unlined.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com

Saturday 8 September 2012


Hilaire Belloc with GB Shaw (left) and GK Chesterton.

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, 
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least, I’ve always found it so; 
Benedicamus Domino.
Hilaire Belloc (1870 - 1953).

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Roman vestments of the 16th century

This handsome vestment, in the Saint Philip Neri style, was made by the Studio for a returning customer, a priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin.

The chasuble is made from an ivory English ecclesiastical brocade, ornamented in the Roman manner with a damask of silk and cotton in burgundy and old gold, and outlined with a galloon.  The chasuble is lined in crimson red.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com

Saturday 1 September 2012


Today, the September Newsletter was sent to all customers and past enquirers of the Studio.  If you are a reader of this Blog and would like to receive a copy of the Newsletter, please contact us.