Wednesday 25 March 2015

Pontifical Requiem for King Richard III

Westminster chasuble
15th century English embroidery
 of the Crucifixion
on the rear of the chasuble.
The memorable events surrounding the reinterment of the remains of King Richard III of England have been taking place in Britain over the last several days and will conclude with the late King's burial in the Cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Leicester on Thursday and Friday.

One of the occasions forming part of this was a Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Vincent Cardinal Nichols of Westminster at Holy Cross Priory Church in Leicester. For this Mass, the Cardinal wore a fifteenth century vestment known as the Westminster chasuble. Information about this chasuble may be read here and here.

It cannot be claimed with certainty that this chasuble was worn during a Mass offered in the presence of King Richard, although this is heavily suggested at present. If it were worn, the late King would be surprised to see what the chasuble looks like now, which bears little resemblance to its original condition. The chasuble became part of the patrimony of Ushaw College in northern England in 1867. Perhaps at this time it was transformed from its original mediaeval form to the "Roman" form. The word mutilated is not too strong to be used to describe this modification. An execrable narrow braid of gold lace has been used on the remade chasuble, adding insult to injury.

King Richard IIIWhenever it was modified, undoubtedly it was in bad condition by then, threadbare and unwearable. It is unlikely that the chasuble was just cut-back to make it smaller, but rather completely remade using those sections of fabric (a brocaded velvet) which were still in usable condition.

We see that the fabric on the back of the chasuble is quite different from that on the front. To our modern sensibilities, this may be seem quite strange, but it was hardly unusual in mediaeval times. It would seem that two quite different fabrics, but of the same place of origin were used to make this one chasuble.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art indicates that the velvet used for the front of the chasuble is probably of Venetian origin and from the last quarter of the fifteenth century. A description of an almost identical length of velvet, found in the Museum, is given here.

Westminster chasuble
Prompted by musings on another Blog and the indignation of one of our correspondents, we have prepared the adjacent rendering of how the Westminster chasuble might originally have looked. Quite obviously, this is conjectural, but it is based on some probabilities. By the fifteenth century, when fabrics employed for vestments were heavier and less flexible, the shape of the chasuble had changed from the classical conical or semi-conical form. A fifteenth century chasuble preserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna has been used as the basis for our conjecture of the original appearance of the Westminster chasuble. The velvet described above preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been used to recreate the appearance of the front of the chasuble.

How would the chasuble have appeared on fifteenth century celebrants? Given the very much smaller average height of mediaeval people, the chasuble would have been long, but not ankle length, on its wearers. It would also have been quite wide, extending to the wrists. How different from how it appeared as worn by the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster last Monday!

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Ladye Day

To commemorate our Lady's Feast, we are pleased to present this Maria Regina chasuble, recently completed for a priest in Western Australia.

The Maria Regina chasuble, especially intended for Feasts of the Blessed Virgin, is based on the style of chasuble commonly found in England and the Low Countries in the 15th and 16th centuries: long and pointed, but reaching only to the elbows. This cut of chasuble was adopted by AWN Pugin at the times of his Revival of "Gothic" vestments in the 19th century. The braids to ornament these vestments were designed by the Saint Bede Studio, inspired by a Pugin orphrey.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries :

Thursday 19 March 2015

Lenten Vestments

Lenten vestmentsThe vestment described in this post was commissioned together with a number of other vestments for a Latin Mass Community in Brazil.

This is a chasuble in the Studio's Saint Martin style, being a contemporary interpretation of the mediaeval chasuble. It is a very ample vestment and intended for use in Lent. The vestments are made from a simple silk in a very dark shade of purple and ornamented with a braid of the Studio's own design, but based on the work of AWN Pugin.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Wednesday 18 March 2015

At "The New Liturgical Movement" Blog

Vestments made for an ordinand in 2013 have made a surprise appearance at the blog The New Liturgical Movement.

They are depicted here.

Enquiries :

Sunday 15 March 2015

Vestment Commissions with the Studio

A note to readers who may be considering commissioning vestments with the Saint Bede Studio or who have made recent enquiries :

Commissions for 2015 have now closed. Our schedule of work has filled quickly, so please contact us now for new vestments in 2016.

Saturday 7 March 2015

7th March 1965

As has been noted on a number of Blogs, 7th March marks the 50th Anniversary of the celebration by Pope Paul VI of the first Mass offered in Italy according to the modifications in the rite of Mass requested by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Paul chose a Roman Parish Church for this special Mass.

We will discuss in a forthcoming post this Mass and the specific revisions of the Order of Mass which were promulgated at the beginning of 1965.

In the meantime, our attention is drawn to this photograph of the Mass, shewing the Pope wearing (probably for the first time) one of the more ample chasubles which became common in Rome thereafter. This chasuble was made of purple silk. It appears to have a silken lining. Its ornament, being a simple column back and front, is not visible in the photograph. Of note is that the chasuble is not of the same proportions as those which were common later in the reign of Pope Paul and the reign of Pope John Paul II. Being not too long, it is possible clearly to see the Pope's albe.