Wednesday 29 June 2016

On the Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul

On this great Feast, we are pleased to present this set of vestments prepared by the Studio for a returning customer from Austria.

This set of vestments is in the Studio's Saint Austin Gothic Revival style. It is made from an English ecclesiastical brocade in a deeper shade of red. Lined in a gold shade of taffeta, the vestments are ornamented with braids in red and gold, of the Studio's own design.

Please click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries :

Tuesday 28 June 2016

A Monastic Solemn Mass

The Preparation of Incense.
The well-known ceremonial study of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite The Celebration of Mass, prepared by Canon JB O'Connell (who also edited later editions of Fortescue's The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described), was first published in 1945 in three volumes. One volume, studying the ceremonies of Solemn Mass, featured a number of photographs taken in the Abbey Church of Prinknash, England.

Canon O'Connell, in the introduction to his book, gives an explanation:

By the very great kindness of the Right Reverend Wilfrid Upson OSB, Abbot of Prinknash Abbey, Gloucester (England), and the monks of his monastery, a number of photographs were taken in the (temporary) Abbey church to celebrate the chief ceremonies of High Mass.

The photographs, some of which are reproduced here, were taken by the Walwin Studio of Gloucester, probably in the year 1941. In the last several years, the Prinknash Community recently returned to residence in the original Abbey and the Chapel pictured in these photographs is once again the Abbey Church.

The Chanting of the Gospel.
The photographs are intended as a staged illustration of the ceremonies of Solemn Mass: obviously it was not an actual Mass which was photographed. The 1st photograph shews the preparation of incense at the beginning of Mass; the 2nd photograph shews the singing of the Gospel; the 3rd photograph shews the ablutions after Holy Communion and the 4th photograph shews the Blessing. Each of these photographs may be clicked on for an enlarged view.

A number of things may be commented upon. The first is the excellent architecture of this tiny chapel, illustrating that beautiful and proportionate things can be created in confined spaces. Especially noteworthy are the tasteful statue niches and the blind arcading and tracery around the walls of the sanctuary.

The Ablutions after Holy Communion.
The second noteworthy thing is the vestments and paraments. The vestments are very ample, the chasuble being semi-conical, and are decorated in a mediaeval manner. Observe that the dalmatic and tunic are ornamented in a completely different manner from each other: a practice which, unfortunately, ceased to be commonplace from the Baroque era onward. Observe also that the chasuble is decorated exactly in the Roman manner: a massive "Tau" on the frontal of the chasuble and a simple column on the back. This style of ornament has been employed continuously in Rome for a millenium.

An interesting touch, and very monastic, is the modest scale of the candlesticks on the High altar. Lastly, it would be of interest to include these explanatory remarks by Canon O'Connell:

The Blessing.
By special privilege of the Holy See, the monks of Prinknash Abbey, though belonging to the Subiaco Congregation of the Benedictine Order, wear a white habit. The tonsure of these Religious is the same as that in use in the Carthusian Order. For the purposes of the photographs, the monks who appear in them were good enough to lay aside for the moment some of their monastic usages in order to conform in full to the Roman rite. Accordingly, for example, in the photographs the lesser ministers wear the surplice instead of the amice, alb and girdle, which is the monastic practice; the Deacon and Subdeacon kneel for the blessing, instead of merely bowing, as solemnly professed monks do in their monastery. It will be noticed that the monks are wearing the monastic hood with the special type of amice that fits over it; and the Sacred Ministers are clad in vestments which are designed and made at the Abbey by members of the community.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Sunday 26 June 2016

Titles and Forms of Address for Catholic Priests

In the English-speaking world, there are particular forms for the title of a Catholic priest. A priest is addressed as "Father" but for a priest ordained for a Diocese and not a Religious Order, the following is the title (an example of names is given) :

The Reverend Thomas LEONARD 

There are other correct forms of this title : 
Reverend Thomas Leonard
(The) Reverend Father Leonard (Christian name omitted or unknown)
(The) Rev. Thomas Leonard (an abbreviation)
(The) Rev'd Thomas Leonard (a contraction) 
(The) Revd Thomas Leonard (a contraction)
Rev. Fr. Leonard (an abbreviation)

There are also incorrect forms, which should be avoided :
Rev. Leonard (bad grammar)
Rev. Father Thomas Leonard (an affectation).

A Catholic priest, being an ordained member of a Religious Order (for example, Benedictine, Carmelite, Cistercian, Augustinian, Franciscan, Dominican) has the following title (an example of names is given) :

The Reverend Father Stephen Reville OSA

There are other correct forms of this title :
(The) Rev. Fr. Stephen Reville OSA (an abbreviation)
(The) Reverend Father Stephen OSA (surname omitted)
(The) Rev'd Father Stephen (a contraction) 
Rev. Fr. Stephen (an abbreviation)

There are also incorrect forms for priests of Religious Orders, which should be avoided :
(The) Reverend Stephen Reville OSA
Father Reville OSA


Adapted from The Sacristan's Manual, Burns and Oates, 1951.

Friday 24 June 2016

Mediaeval Pontificals : 2

The above painting of Saint Nicholas of Myra was painted by the Florentine artist Pacino di Bonaguida, who worked at the beginning of the Fourteenth century (1302 to before 1340).

The website of the J Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles) tells us that twentieth-century scholars reconstructed Pacino da Bonaguida's career, based upon his only known signed painting: an altarpiece in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. Pacino spent his entire career in Florence, where, in addition to altarpieces, he painted miniatures and decorations for illuminated manuscripts. He is considered the inventor of miniaturism, a style distinguished by a clear organisation of the painting surface into multiple small-scale scenes.

This work, which is painted in an iconographic style, depicts Saint Nicholas as a bishop of the the early Fourteenth century. Visible in the painting are the bishop's chasuble, amice apparel, a liturgical book, gloves, ring, crosier and mitre.

The condition of the above reproduction of Pacino's painting being what it is, it is not possible to determine precisely the colour of the chasuble. Certainly its lining is black, so we are inclined to think this semi-conical chasuble is of black damask, figured with gold quatrefoils. The fabric may, however, be a very dark green. The ornament of the chasuble is quite interesting, since it is a very early example of a woven braid, or at least is depicted as such. We can tell this since at the intersection point of the TAU piece (which rests upon the chest) the designs can be seen quite clearly to be disappearing beneath the horizontal ornament. Were the entire orphrey embroidered, such an arrangement would be avoided. The woven braid itself consists of geometrical patterns, rather than religious figures, and these designs are presented in colours of red, black and gold on a neutral background.

This early example of the TAU ornament is interesting also since it is really in the shape of a Cross " t " rather than " T ". Unlike the presentation of the TAU in later centuries, this decoration has a very short horizontal band. Sitting around the neckline is an amice apparel which, although of a different design, is woven in similar colours to the chasuble orphrey.

The white Episcopal gloves being worn by Saint Nicholas appear to be embroidered with a coat of arms. In his right hand, the Saint is depicted holding a liturgical book, whether it be an Evangelarium or a Sacramentary is unable to be determined.

Upon his head, Saint Nicholas is shewn to be wearing a precious mitre in the early mediaeval style. It is of white linen or silk and is ornamented in the usual style with the circulus and titulus bands.  These are of embroidered geometric designs upon a gold background.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

An Old English Prayer for all Christians

The following is part of a prayer for all Christian people from The Primer or LayFolks' Prayerbook :

May the glorious passion of our Lord Jesus Christ bring us to the joy of Paradise.
In thy pity, Lord, unbind the bonds of all our sins. 
And through the prayer of the glorious everlasting maid Mary, 
with all thy saints, keep us, 
thy servants and our Queen and all Christian people in all holiness; 
cleanse of all vices and lighten with virtues 
all that are one with us by kinship of blood 
or by domestic ties or by prayer. 
Give peace and help to us, and put our enemies far from us, 
both those that we see and those that we cannot see. 
Give thy charity to our friends and to our enemies; 
and help to all the sick; and to all Christians, 
living and dead, grant life and endless rest, 
by Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The Primer, which exists in manuscript form in several venerable English libraries, is thought to have been compiled circa 1420-1430. It was published in book form by the Early English Text Society in 1895, with an explanatory essay on its origins by the eminent liturgiologist Edmund Bishop.

Thursday 16 June 2016

Mediaeval Pontificals

15th century painting of S' Peter Damian.

When looking at mediaeval depictions of bishops or popes vested for Mass, we find certain things in common with the Pontifical vestments of a 21st century Catholic bishop, but some significant differences. The most striking difference is the usual lack of an Episcopal dalmatic amongst the vestments of a modern bishop. Even when a dalmatic is worn, it is usually an affair so non-descript as to be hardly noticeable.

Before Pope Paul VI entered Saint Peter's Basilica to celebrate Mass solemnly in 1965, bishops or popes had - since the earliest centuries of the Church (certainly since the Constantinian period) - worn a dalmatic underneath the chasuble. *   Paul VI was the first to break this tradition, when he appeared in a flowing chasuble, with no dalmatic beneath. As a matter of fact, until the end of his Pontificate in 1978, typically left aside the use of the dalmatic. His successors, John Paul I, John Paul II and Francis all likewise have left aside the dalmatic. Benedict XVI was a happy exception to this, adopting quite early on in his Pontificate the use of the dalmatic beneath the chasuble on all solemn occasions.

The pity of this is that the dalmatic worn with the chasuble symbolised the fullness of Holy Orders enjoyed by a bishop. A bishop is incompletely vested if he lacks the dalmatic. The claim that it is too burdensome to wear a dalmatic beneath the chasuble is, to say the least, pitiful.

In this post, we look at a painting which once formed part of altarpiece from Faenza in Italy of the early 15th century, which depicts Saint Peter Damian. The artist Peruccino - who was known as the Master of Saint Peter Damian - prepared this likeness from the effigy on the sarcophagus of the saint.

The saint is depicted wearing a style of vestments commonly known in 14th and 15th century Italy; namely : a flowing linen albe which is unadorned with either apparels or embroidery; a red semi-conical chasuble whose Tau ornament is formed from embroidered cameos of the saints and upon his head a precious mitre of white silk ornamented and embroidered with goldwork and precious stones.

We also see the Episcopal dalmatic (the tunic can also just be seen). It is immediately noticeable how elaborate the dalmatic is : not a plain affair of simple silk. It is made from a rich damask of deep green ornamented with gold embroidery and outlined with gold braid. One could be forgiven for observing that the dalmatic has a richer appearance than the chasuble itself. But certainly the dalmatic enriches the appearance of the wearer and is not intended to be invisible.

Imagine how dignified a modern bishop would look if he were to wear a dalmatic of such nobility beneath his chasuble? One can but hope.

* In addition, a bishop would also wear a tunic, being the vestment of the subdeacon, but this requirement for the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite lapsed when the subdiaconate was abolished as a Major Order in 1973. 

Sunday 12 June 2016

Priestly Ordinations 2016 : 1

Figure 1.
Father Landman speaking after the 
celebration of his First Holy Mass in the church of
Saint Mary in High Hill (Texas).
Photograph courtesy of Father Landman
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, our first post for 2016, we are pleased to draw attention to the ordination of Father Max Landman of the Diocese of Victoria (Texas) USA. Father Landman was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Victory, Victoria on 4th June by the Most Rev'd Brendan Cahill, along with a number of other candidates.

Father Landman commissioned two vestments from the Studio for the celebration of his First Holy Mass.

Figure 2. 
During the Offertory of Father Landman's First Holy Mass.
Chasuble and dalmatic seen in this photograph.
Photograph courtesy of Father Landman
A chasuble in the semi-conical form was made from a straw-gold shade of ecclesiastical brocade. The chasuble was ornamented in the Italian style of the 15th century, with a TAU formed from crimson silk dupion and trimmed with a galloon in red and gold. The galloon is of the Saint Bede Studio's exclusive suite of braids and galloons.

Complementing the chasuble was a dalmatic (see Figure 5, below) ornamented with the same decorative scheme, but with the emphasis being on the traditional clavi.  Both chasuble and dalmatic were lined in a crimson-red shade of taffeta.

Figure 3. 
Father Landman during the Anointing of hands at his Ordination
in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Victory.
JW Harrison Photography

NB These vestments were not made by the Saint Bede Studio.

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

Please click on the images for an enlarged view.


Figure 4. 
Interior of the Cathedral of our Lady of Victory, Victoria, Texas.

Although in the more modern style of the 1950's and 1960's, 
it has references to Gothic church architecture. 
The pitched ceiling is enhanced by large trusses
which continue downward to form the columns separating 
the side aisles from the nave.
The sanctuary is enhanced by a lofty reredos in mosaic-work 
and a corona directly above the altar.

Figure 5. 
Accompanying dalmatic.

Friday 10 June 2016

For the Season "Per Annum" 2016 : 2

The Saint Bede Studio has recently completed a set of green vestments for a Cathedral in the United States. The chasuble, shewn in the adjacent image, is in the Borromeon form, but modified in its decoration to suit its Gothic environment.

The vestments were made from lustrous dupion silk in a brighter shade of green and ornamented with an orphrey braid of the Studio's own design. The braids are in colours of red, burgundy, gold and white. The taffeta lining was red.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries :

Tuesday 7 June 2016

The Westminster Chasuble (re-posted)

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 took place in Britain over several days in March 2015 and concluded with the late King's burial in the Cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Leicester.

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 strenuously suggested. 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.

Sunday 5 June 2016

Violet Puginesque Vestments

This chasuble set was recently completed by the Saint Bede Studio.

The vestments were made from dupion silk, handmade in India.  The chasuble is unlined, and so is rather lightweight, but its neckline was faced to give a neat and substantial finish to the opening.

These vestments are in a beautiful, but not too deep, shade of violet. The ornament is formed from an orphrey braid exclusive to the Saint Bede Studio and based directly on the work of AWN Pugin. The colours of the braid are silver, Roman purple and crimson.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Too Many Words

Photograph from a children's Mass-book
shewing the celebration of Mass
according to the "Interim Missal".
One of the characteristics of the Roman Rite until the Introduction of the Pauline Missal in 1970, was the balance it achieved between silence, singing, the spoken word and ritual action. Even the so-called Interim Rite, which had various iterations between 1964 and 1968, still preserved much of this balance.  The Roman Rite "spoke" to people on a number of levels, not just the cerebral level. Its silences spoke, its aesthetics spoke, its unique and unworldly music spoke.

On the other hand, one of the great flaws of the Pauline Missal is that it is far too cerebral. Everything has to be comprehensible intellectually. The Council Fathers decreed that the Church's Rites had to be "intelligible", but unhappily, the Pauline Missal took this injunction too far.

The typical celebration of the New Mass, Ordinary Form - call it what you will - is very wordy. If the texts in the Missal itself weren't more than enough, we are also subjected to little commentaries, entertainments, even ferverini during the Mass. Words, words, words. Too many words.

At the same time, ritual action in the New Mass has been reduced to a minimum. Silence is imposed by the celebrant, rather than being organic to the Rite. One strange example of this, which we experience too often, is the celebrant - having preached his homily - goes and sits down and a period of silence is endured. Presumably we are to meditate on his spoken wisdom: but does anyone remember more than two sentences that he said?

Let us be very careful to avoid an overly-cerebral approach to the Sacred Liturgy (New or Old).  Might we not aim, rather, to recapture and preserve that old balance of the Roman Rite: silence and song supporting the Ritual actions?

Wednesday 1 June 2016

The Revision of the Roman Rite : How did it happen?

Fifty years later, one of the most puzzling things for those considering the revision of the Liturgical books after the Second Vatican Council is how exactly such radical changes came to pass.

Arguably, the most dramatic change was the first one - the one that actually was mandated by the Council - namely, introducing vernacular language into the Rite of Mass. After that was accepted - and it was enormously popular - every other modification of the Roman Rite was relatively easy. Indeed, they were embraced, step-by-step, as "obvious" improvements.