Friday 30 October 2015

Priestly Ordinations 2015 : 12

Figure 1. Ordination vestments of
Father Thomas Quinn.
Each year, the Saint Bede Studio has the privilege of preparing sacred vestments for priestly Ordinands. Happily, this year has been no exception.

This post concerns Father Thomas Quinn of the Archdiocese of Newark (New Jersey, USA), who was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Newark NJ) on 23rd May along with eleven other candidates.

Father Quinn commissioned vestments in the Borromeon form. The chasuble (shewn adjacent), was sewn from a crimson-red silk damask and was ornamented in the Roman manner with a braids in the Puginesque style, previously designed by the Studio. The vestments were lined in a Royal Blue-coloured taffeta.

Please pray for Father Quinn and for all newly-ordained priests.

Please click on the image for an enlarged view.


Figure 2. Magnificent and distinctive facade of the
Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark NJ.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Priestly Ordinations 2015 : 10 and 11

Figure 1. Ordination vestments of
Father Francis Denton.
Each year, the Saint Bede Studio has the privilege of preparing sacred vestments for priestly Ordinands. Happily, this year has been no exception.

In this post we are pleased to draw attention to the ordinations of two Australians Father Francis Denton of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, and Father Conor Steadman of the Archdiocese of Perth.

Father Denton was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne on 27th June along with two other candidates, whilst Father Steadman was ordained in Saint Mary's Cathedral, Perth on 1st August along with several other candidates.

Because Father Denton's and Father Steadman's ordination vestments were of similar appearance we present a description of their vestments in this one post. Both vestments  were made from silk damask of a muted shade of gold. The chasubles were ornamented in a damask of burgundy and gold silk, outlined with narrow galloons in the Roman style. They were lined in a wine-red taffeta.  This design we have named Saint Bartholomew.

Father Denton's chasuble is in the Borromeon form whilst Father Steadman's vestments are in the Saint Philip Neri form.

Figure 2. Father Steadman receiving the Sacred Vessels
during his Ordination by the Archbishop of Perth.

Figure 3. Ordination vestments
of Father Conor Steadman.
Please pray for Fathers Denton and Steadman and for all newly-ordained priests.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries :

Sunday 18 October 2015

Suscipe Sancta Trinitas

One of the prayers which didn't survive the Missale Romanum final cut in 1970 was this one:

Accept, holy Trinity, this offering which we make to you in remembrance of the passion, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honour of blessed Mary ever Virgin, of blessed John the Baptist, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, of those whose relics rest here, and of all the Saints. To them may it bring honour, and to us salvation; and may they, whose memory we keep on earth, be pleased to intercede for us in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

This beautiful prayer, intended to be recited quietly after the washing of the hands during the Preparation of Gifts or Offertory, is a summary of the things a Catholic should keep in mind when praying the Mass. It reminds us firstly that all our worship is offered to the One God, who is a Trinity of Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Secondly, in reflecting the Anamnesis after the consecration, the prayer insists on the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery that is re-presented for us in sacramental form: His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. Finally, it asserts that a secondary end of the Mass is the honour of the Saints (that is, the victory of Christ in His members is being praised), and accordingly it begs their intercession for us on Earth. 

One can only wonder at the mentality which saw fit to excise this prayer from the Mass. If there was one prayer that ought to have been retained at the Offertory, this was the one. After washing his hands and before inviting the people to prayer (Pray, brethren), the celebrant bowed before the altar and quietly prayed the Suscipe Sancta Trinitas.

If you are a priest reading this, you might consider praying this prayer at the Offertory when you offer the Ordinary Form of the Roman Mass. If you pray it according to the rubrics of the 1962 Missale Romanum, (namely bowed and silently) no one in the pews will be disturbed by hearing a prayer recited which is not contained in the New Order of Mass.  Be daring.

How beautiful it would be if once again this prayer were recited at every Mass!  The Angels would rejoice.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Enquiries with the Studio

Recently, a very large number of enquiries has been received by the Studio. Every enquiry will be answered, but the patience of all those who have contacted us is sought.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

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, which assertions are 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.

Monday 12 October 2015

Commissions in 2016

Re-posted from 16th August and 3rd September

Owing to an unprecedented amount of Commissions for new vestments received by the Saint Bede Studio in the last several months, we wish to advise that our schedule of work for the period January - September 2016 is now closed. We regret any disappointment this may cause to those who have not yet made enquiries with us.

The Studio has commenced accepting commissions for 2017.

Saturday 3 October 2015

Chasuble Styles of the Roman Rite : 3 (Revised)


Figure 1.
A chasuble made by the Saint Bede Studio
approximating the Borromeon dimensions.
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.

Figure 2.
Detail of a 17th century French painting
depicting the Last Mass of Saint Benedict,
shewing a monk vested in an ample chasuble
of the dimensions recommended by Saint Charles.

Note the albes worn by the celebrant and acolytes
are of linen with close-fitting sleeves 
and the narrowest fringe of lace
ornamenting them : very dignified.
At the altar, the celebrant is placing a ciborium
into what appears to be a large hanging pyx.

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.

Figure 3.
Portrait of Saint John Paul II by the Russian artist Natalia Tsarkova
showing the Pope wearing a modern exemplar
of a chasuble according to the Borromeon dimensions.

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 at least half way between the elbow and the wrist.

Figure 4.

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. Perhaps the most significant variation in chasuble-making of this period, however, was the modification of the angle of the shoulder line, to become far less acute.  The modified form leaves the arms of the wearer comparatively free, rather than wrapping itself around the wearer as the ancient conical form did (see figures 2 and 3 for chasubles in this modified form).  

Saint Charles did not draw-up designs for chasubles, nor did he specify how they were to be ornamented. His concern was that they remain ample, according to Tradition. The different looms on which fabric was woven determined, of course, the width of the chasuble. This is why historic paintings, drawings, sculptures etc sometimes shew chasubles of the Borromeon form which, whilst quite long, nevertheless do not reach beyond the midpoint of the forearm. There is great variation.

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.

Figure 5.