Friday 31 May 2013

Solemnity of Corpus Christi in Rome

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord was celebrated in Rome by Pope Francis in the customary manner, with a Solemn Mass celebrated at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, followed by a Eucharistic Procession to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. This year, Pope Francis walked the Procession between the two basilicas, rather than kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament on a special float, as has happened in more recent years.

Some photographs are adjacent.

Another new set of vestments (including a cope) has been made for the use of the Pope and his deacons-assistant. These vestments are ornamented in imitation of the well-known Greek Key interlocking squares. Once again, a new set of vestments has made an appearance, lacking any Christological symbols, made of synthetic materials, unworthy of the use of the Vicar of Christ. Yet another new mitre has been added to the Pope's collection, scarcely different from the ones already made for him.

Procession of the Pope and deacons to the Altar.
The desire of Pope Francis to be vested simply is a worthy aspiration. But the production of new Papal vestments of such impoverished design and materials is not needed when the Papal sacristies are filled with simple vestments more worthy of their sacred purpose.

Photographs the copyright of Getty Images.

A canopy erected over the Altar
outside the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.

Beautifully ornamented portable Altar outside
the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.

New chasuble and mitre worn by Pope Francis.

At the beginning of the Eucharistic Procession from
the Lateran Basilica.

New cope matching the chasuble.

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at
the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.

Altar arranged outside the Basilica of Saint Mary Major for Benediction
at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Procession.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Pope Celestine V

Pope Celestine as depicted by
the 14th century Italian artist
Niccolo di Tommaso.
Pope Saint Celestine V came into focus again recently after centuries since, until Benedict XVI, he was the most recent Pope to voluntarily abdicate. A previous post discusses this connection. At the splendid The History Blog, there was a most interesting post about the death of Pope Celestine, which is a most interesting read.

Recently, the skeletal remains were subject to intense scrutiny, during which process, through the wonders of modern technology, a facial reconstruction was digitally produced.  This image formed the basis of a Death Mask, which has been placed in the tomb of Saint Celestine.

The mask is shewn below, with the saint's remains clad in pontificals and - most interestingly - in the pallium of Pope Benedict XVI.

Remains of Pope Saint Celestine V.

Friday 24 May 2013

Commissions with the Saint Bede Studio

A note to prospective customers: the Studio is now accepting vestment commissions for the last quarter of 2013 and first quarter of 2014.  It is not too soon to begin discussions or make an enquiry.

Adjacent is an image of a set of vestments in the Borromeon style recently completed for a young priest, a returning customer from Wichita USA. These vestments are made from a beautiful silk damask in tones of ivory and have been decorated in the Roman manner with another silk damask of rust and gold tones, outlined with a gold galloon. The lining, which is not visible, is of wine-red taffeta.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Sunday 19 May 2013

Pentecost in Saint Peter's Square

Pope Francis celebrated the Pentecost Solemnity in Saint Peter's Square earlier today. The chasuble worn by the Pope was a rather plain affair, which had been used on certain occasions by Pope Benedict. Its only merit is that it is ornamented with crosses.

It seems a pity that Pope Francis has not adopted the use of the Episcopal dalmatic for the Greater Days. Towards the end of 1965, Pope Paul VI discontinued his use of an Episcopal dalmatic completely. It was used but a few times by the Blessed John Paul. As we know, its use was reintroduced as a usual vestment for Solemn Papal Masses by Pope Benedict.

Procession to the Altar in Saint Peter's Square
Pentecost Sunday.

Procession to the Altar Pentecost Sunday.
Pope Francis is using the ferula of Pope Paul VI.

For the Pentecost Solemnity, Pope Francis was given to wear a new mitre, nicely proportioned and ornamented. The three new precious mitres which have been made for the Pope's use since his Election, however, are all so similar in proportion and ornament, that from only a short distance, no difference is discernible, which seems peculiar.

These photographs are the copyright of Getty Images.

New Precious mitre of Pope Francis
first used on Palm Sunday.

New Precious mitre of Pope Francis
first used in April.

New Precious mitre of Pope Francis
first used Pentecost.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Pectoral Cross of Pope Francis

Adjacent is a close-up of the Pectoral Cross which Pope Francis wears invariably. Its shape is not attractive, but the beautiful image of the Shepherd carrying upon his shoulders the lost sheep whilst surrounded by the flock is particularly fitting for a bishop and a Pope.

Some authors have attributed to this image of the Shepherd carrying the lost Sheep the use of the woollen PALLIUM of the Pope (which came to be used by other bishops also).

Monday 13 May 2013

Summorum Pontificum 2 :
Just a Question of Taste?

It is often asserted that the question of the style of vestments (for example "Gothic" versus Baroque") is purely one of taste; that Baroque 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 criticised. This presupposes that all "developments" are worthy.

It may be that whether one likes or dislikes Baroque vestments is a matter of taste. But the point of the previous post was this: why is there an almost automatic association between Baroque vestments, lace albes etc. and the Extraordinary Form? The use of the word Roman is avoided here to describe this style of vestment, because the High Baroque has no monopoly on the Tradition of vestments in Rome.

Pope Paul VI at his Coronation Mass, 1963.
Unhappily, there is most certainly an attitude floating around in the circles of Catholic Tradition that this High Baroque expression of the Extraordinary Form is THE valid expression. Consequently (this is not a caricature of the view), using styles of vestments that are older or more modern than that of the High 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.

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 style of the High Baroque may not be subject to question because it is “Traditional”.

Exactly why is there such an attachment to this Baroque expression of Tradition? Perhaps this is a question which cuts to the heart of people’s perception of the nature of Tradition. It is a sociological issue also, which is certainly not the focus of this Blog. For many, what preceded the Second Vatican Council is Traditional, what followed it is not. This is also a view that ought to be examined critically, because it is a very narrow interpretation of the concept of Tradition.

Many people were greatly upset and even scandalised when Papal Rome made a wholesale rejection of the High 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.

This issue has again come into focus with the expressed preference of Pope Francis to be vested in the plainest of vestments, which has been very off-putting to many people.

Perhaps those who were born after that the Second Vatican Council 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 High Baroque chasuble quite attractive in their richness and in their differentness. There is also a certain fascination with this High Baroque 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 above 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 Extraordinary Form.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Vestments for Ascensiontide

The Saint Bede Studio received a special commission from the Church of S' Birinus in Oxfordshire (UK) to make a set of Festal vestments.

The adjacent photograph of the church shews the altar (arranged for ad orientem celebrations) in a small English chancel behind a beautiful rood screen. This screen has been enriched in recent years with gilding and polychrome work and surmounted by a beautiful Rood Group of the Crucified with the Blessed Virgin and Saint John.

The Church of S' Birinus, Oxfordshire.
Photograph: Fr Lawrence Lew OP

The vestments were made from a lovely ecclesiastical brocade, in ivory and straw gold, ornamented with a braid in colours of Royal blue, gold and red. This braid was designed by the Saint Bede Studio to coincide with the Pugin bicentenary year and is a reproduction of a braid designed by Pugin himself.

It will be noticed that this chasuble is in the semi-conical style. When wearing the chasuble, it folds up from the bottom, horizontally, rather than in the vertical drapes of a standard ample chasuble. The photographs shew the chasuble worn with an amice apparel.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.


The Church of S' Birinus, Oxfordshire
Photograph: GothPhil (Flickr).

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Summorum Pontificum : 1
Looking Forward and not Back

For those who love the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the promulgation in 2007 of Pope Benedict's motu proprio was an occasion of the greatest joy.

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.

Summorum Pontificum is not only about clarifying the status of the 1962 Missal; it has been suggested that it was also intended as a means to reform the sometimes horrid state into which the Church's Liturgy has fallen. The revival of the Extraordinary Form 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, in September 2007, I felt slightly uneasy. In these almost six years since the motu proprio came into effect, there has been an explosion of pictures on the internet of the celebration of the Extraordinary Form,  a majority of them shewing lacey albs, fiddleback chasubles, birettas, baroque mitres etc. In the first few years, it was as if suddenly the doors of an 18th century lolly shop were broken down and everyone had got in to gorge themselves.

Do people believe that the true expression of the Extraordinary Form must be with Baroque styles of vestments? If so, why? Is this Tradition or Re-creation?

Two photos are attached of Pontifical celebrations of the Extraordinary Form. Adjacent, the former President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, Cardinal Hoyos and his assistants are vested in a frightful dark red set of 18th century "Roman" vestments; in the other, at the top of this post, 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 6 May 2013

Popes at Prayer

In the Mater Ecclesiæ chapel.
On 2nd May, Benedict XVI returned from Castelgandolfo to take up his new residence at the Mater Ecclesiæ Convent in the grounds of the Vatican. He was welcomed back to the Vatican by his successor, Pope Francis, who is living within easy walking distance of Benedict's home.

Another lovely photograph has emerged of the two Popes praying together in the newly-arranged chapel at Mater Ecclesiæ.  We notice a prominent Crucifix and an altar arranged for the celebration of Mass ad orientem in this simple and small chapel.

Friday 3 May 2013

Chasubles of the Roman Rite : 3


A chasuble approximating the dimensions of the Borromeon Form.
Frequently, the Studio receives enquiries asking about the distinctions between the different styles of chasubles. Comments are also often seen on websites which indicate that this subject matter is still not well-known. Although this has been written about before on the blog, I wish to present a series of posts describing the styles of chasuble down the centuries until our own time. These posts ought to be regarded as brief overviews rather than scholarly treatments of the subject matter.

This post concerns the style of chasuble found in the sixteenth century and in particular that form deemed desirable by Saint Charles Borromeo. As has been written about elsewhere, Saint Charles set down regulations about any number of things pertaining to arrangements of churches and their ministers. From the earliest years of the Church until about the sixteenth century, the conical or bell-shaped chasuble had been the norm for the ministers at the altar. In the thirteenth century, as described in part two of this series, the shape of that chasuble was slightly modified for the greater convenience of the wearer.

Detail of a 17th century French painting of the Miraculous Mass of Saint Martin, shewing the Saint vested in an ample chasuble of the dimensions recommended by Saint Charles.
From the fifteenth century, however, in various parts of Europe, but particularly northern Europe, vestment makers took it upon themselves to modify the chasuble still further to free-up the celebrant's arms. Thus, even at this early date but only in some places, that ugly shape referred to unkindly as the "fiddleback" began to appear. It is noteworthy that the truncation of the chasuble in this way was never sanctioned by Ecclesiastical authority. Whilst abbreviated chasubles were appearing North of the Alps, Rome retained the Tradition of the ample chasuble, as did Spain.

Thus it was that Saint Charles, obviously disedified by what he deemed to be unseemly abbreviations of the form of the chasuble, set down regulations for the benefit of his Diocese of Milan. These were the dimensions he believed to be the minimum in order for a chasuble to conform to Tradition. He prescribed that the chasuble was to be very long, reaching at the back almost to the heels of the wearer and wide enough so that it reached half way between the elbow and the wrist.

The diagram above is a montage produced to help explain the difference between the ancient conical form and that modified form approved by Saint Charles. Note that the bell-shape has been altered by reducing fabric along the shoulder line of the vestment. The modified form leaves the arms of the wearer comparatively free, but also it sits on the wearer like a Mexican poncho, rather than wraps itself around the wearer as the ancient conical form did.

Lastly, we are pleased to include this detail from Beccafumi's painting The Miraculous Communion of Saint Catherine of Siena, circa 1515. This shews the form of chasuble that was to be found in Italy at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It closely corresponds to the dimensions prescribed by Saint Charles 80 years later. Note that, unlike the conical form, described in our first two posts, this chasuble does not fold upward from the lower edge, but instead, sits on the wearer.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Vestments for Pugin's Church at Ramsgate

Saint Augustine's Church, Ramsgate
Photograph: Fr Tim Finnigan.
Commenced in 1845, Saint Augustine's church, Ramsgate was not intended as a Parish church, but was designed as a personal chapel adjacent to the residence of the Pugin family. Pugin and members of his family are buried in a crypt beneath the church. More can be read about the history of Saint Augustine's at this webpage.

Almost everything of this building was designed by Pugin himself, including the vestments. In the 1970s, however, a decision was taken to give the large collection of vestments and paraments into the care of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

The Friends of Saint Augustine was established in 2010 to support the restoration and repair of Saint Augustine's church (and its associated buildings) and to promote greater awareness of its architectural and historical importance.

In conjunction with the Friends of Saint Augustine, the Saint Bede Studio has been organising a SPECIAL APPEAL to provide - over a period of years - new vestments in the Puginesque style for Saint Augustine's church. Wherever possible, these new vestments will be similar to the original Pugin vestments, now in the V & A Museum. The first design is shewn adjacent and is derived from two different original Pugin vestments.

Previously, in February 2012, the Saint Bede Studio donated a set of vestments to Saint Augustine's to commemorate the Bicentenary of Pugin's birth.

Are you an admirer of Pugin and his work?  If so, this is an opportunity to make a donation to the church which was his last great work and his place of earthly rest.  If you are interested in making a donation to this Project, or to obtain further information, please contact us by e-mail, using the subject line Ramsgate Vestments Appeal.

When sufficient funds have been subscribed to cover costs of materials, the vestment will be made up by the Studio for presentation to Saint Augustine's. The names of all donors will be preserved in documentary form at Saint Augustine's Church. Please note: the sole beneficiary of this appeal will be Saint Augustine's Church, Ramsgate and not the Saint Bede Studio.