Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Subject was Roses

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.  Previous to that, dyes were derived from plants etc., made up with a great deal of labour.

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; and some red with overtones of gold.

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.  Sadly, pink-coloured vestments, purporting to be Rose, are becoming increasingly commonplace and now even appear at Papal Masses.

At an old post on 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 reddish colour with overtones of silver.  Go there and take a look.  The same article also shews the considerable variety of older rose-coloured vestments, in use throughout Europe.  Often, embroidered flowers on such vestments was a device used to enhance the "rosiness" of the vestment.

This week, we feature a new vestment (see above) more in the Baroque tradition.  It is made from a silk damask of a shade between crimson and copper, but also interwoven with a subdued gold thread.  As a result, such a vestment looks more rose in some lights, more golden in others.  The orphrey of this chasuble is formed from a dupion silk in a complementary shade of rose, likewise the lining.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.