Saturday 25 April 2020

Festal Vestments

Borromeon vestments
The front of the chasuble with maniple.
The Saint Bede Studio recently completed this set of vestments for a Seminary in the United States.  This was an unusual commission, since we were asked to prepare a set of vestments to complement two existing heritage dalmatics in the Seminary's possession.

The new vestments were made in the Borromeon style from an English silk-and-metallic-thread brocade in a bright shade of gold.  The orphrey was formed from dupion silk in a shade of olive green.  Upon the orphreys were placed appliqué and a vesica depicting the Lamb of God.  The front orphrey was a column, the rear orphrey a Latin Cross.

The vestments were lined in red taffeta.

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The Saint Bede Studio

The Saint Bede Studio
The lower edge of the chasuble front

Borromeon vestments
Fleur de lis appliqué on the orphrey

The Saint Bede Studio
The rear of the chasuble shewing Agnus Dei vesica.

Saturday 18 April 2020

Festal vestments in the 16th century style

The Saint Bede Studio
The vestments described in this post were commissioned - together with a number of other vestments - for a Monastic Community in Brazil. Adjacent is pictured the new set of vestments in the Saint Philip Neri style.

This simple set of vestments was made from a brocade in the colour of ivory with golden thread and lined in a yellow taffeta.  The ornament is formed in the Roman style.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

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Tuesday 14 April 2020

Vestments for Paschaltide

The Saint Bede StudioTo commemorate the Feast of our Saviour's Resurrection, the Saint Bede Studio is pleased to present these vestments recently completed for a returning customer. The vestments were made from a beautiful English silk damask and lined in red taffeta.  The chasuble was ornamented with a chevron formed from an ecclesiastical brocade in old gold and red and a braid from the Studio's collection.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : Visit this page

The Saint Bede Studio

The Saint Bede Studio

Monday 13 April 2020

Dearly Beloved : 1 (re-posted)

Figure 1
Introduction to the Renewal of Baptismal Promises
as it appeared in the 1953
Ordo Sabbati Sancti.
During the celebration of the Paschal Vigil in most parts of the world in April 1953, (1) something quite different happened, something new in the Roman Rite.  The celebrant spoke to the congregation as follows :

On this most sacred night, dearly beloved brethren, holy Mother Church. meditating on the death and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ, again lovingly keeps a vigil for Him; and while waiting for His glorious resurrection she rejoices exceedingly.

But since, as the Apostle teaches, we are buried with Christ by baptism unto death, it behooves us so to walk in newness of life, knowing that our old man has been crucified along with Christ so that we are truly dead through sin but alive in God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wherefore, dearly beloved brethren, now the Lenten period of good works is completed, let us renew the promises of holy baptism, wherein we once renounced Satan and his works, as also the world, which is God's enemy, promising to serve God faithfully in the holy Catholic Church. (2) 

Figure 2
The bishop's admonition to candidates
in the Rite of Priestly Ordination.
From a 19th century edition of the
Pontificale Romanum.
Mind you, the different-ness of those words would have been softened by their being said in Latin, and - since the reformulated Paschal Vigil was required to be celebrated just before Midnight (or even later)  - they were not likely heard by many.  But why was this introduction so remarkable?  Because it wasn't a prayer addressed to God; nor was it a ritual invitation to prayer (such as the Sursum corda and Orate Fratres), which have been marked by conciseness.  This was different : a description and an exhortation.  Completely without precedent in the Roman Rite?  Not quite.  For centuries the Rites of Ordination, as found in the Pontificale Romanum, included an Admonition addressed to the ordinands by the bishop.  Those Admonitions, however, were also intended as a substitute for the homily, and they were not addressed to the entire congregation.

This insertion into the Paschal Vigil, however, was not intended as a substitute homily, but an introduction to the Renewal of Baptismal Promises.  This Renewal itself was an innovation into the Paschal Vigil.  The Renewal, of course, was derived directly from the Rite of Baptism in the Rituale Romanum ; nevertheless, there was no introductory admonition in that liturgical book.  No, the Introduction under discussion was written by someone, probably in 1950, for inclusion in the Paschal Vigil.

Father Annibale Bugnini CM in his apologia The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 described this obliquely as follows:

On 28th May, 1948 a commission for liturgical reform was appointed.  Its president was Cardinal Clemente Micara, prefect of the Congregation of Sacred Rites (3) ...  
In the twelve years of its existence ... the commission held eighty-two meetings and worked in absolute secrecy.  So, secret, in fact, was their work that the publication of the Ordi Sabbati Sancti instaurati at the beginning of March 1951 caught even the officials of the Congregation of Sacred Rites by surprise.  The commission enjoyed the full confidence of the Pope, who was kept abreast of its work by Monsignor Montini and ... by Father Bea, confessor of Pius XII ... 
The first fruit of the commission's work was the restoration of the Easter Vigil (1951), which elicited an explosion of joy throughout the Church.  It was a signal that the liturgy was at last launched decisively on a pastoral course. (4)

Figure 3
Title page of the 1953 edition of
the Order of Holy Saturday.
The Paschal Vigil introduction was the first iteration of a number of such formulae which appeared again in 1964 after the publication of the Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium.  We find them in the formulae for General Intercessions or Bidding Prayers, introduced into the Order of Mass in 1964.  The Missale Romanum of 1969, however, raised these Introductions to a new level.  During the Proper of the Seasons, such Introductions are found on The Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas), Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, The Mass of the Holy Oils and throughout the Paschal Triduum.  They are also found in all the revised rites of the Sacraments and in other rites found in the revised Roman Pontifical and various other liturgical books.  Most regularly, however, they are found in the Order of Mass.  All of these Introductions were not restorations from ancient sacramentaries, they are not part of the early structure of the Eucharist, but entirely new compositions.

But these Introductions do indeed have a precedent in Western Christian rites and that is Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's 1549 The booke of common prayer and administracion of the sacramentes, and other rites and ceremonies of the Churche : after the use of the Church of England.  And, yes,  there is something strikingly "Prayerbook" about that Paschal Vigil introduction.

To be continued in a further post.


1. A re-formulation of the Rites of the Paschal Vigil had been completed and circulated in March 1951.  The following year, Pope Pius XII granted permission to the bishops of the world for this reformulated Vigil to be celebrated (according to their discretion) for a period of three years ad experimentum.   A discrete liturgical book for use on Holy Saturday 1953, was thereafter published.

2.  From 1952 onward, a number of anglophone translations of the entire Paschal Vigil were available for congregational use, intended to replace the text of existing hand-missals. Around 1955, some type of permission had been given for this introductory formula and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises itself to be recited in the vernacular.  It is not clear, however, how general this permission was before the publication of the so-called Interim Rite altar Missals from 1964 onward.  Unfortunately, the availability of translations into other language groups is beyond the research material used for this article.

3. This is a list of the original members of the Commission for Liturgical Reform as described by Father Bugnini :  Cardinal Micara, Chairman of the Commission and Prefect of the Congregation of Sacred Rites; Archbishop Alfonso Carinci, secretary of the same Congregation; Father Ferdinand Antonelli OFM and Father Joseph Low CSsR, of the same Congregation; Father Anselmo Albareda OSB, prefect of the Vatican Library; Father Augustin Bea SJ, rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute; Father Annibale Bugnini CM Secretary of the Commission.  A few were added over a period of years, not least of which, Monsignor Enrico Dante, Prefect of Pontifical Ceremonies.

4.  The Reform of the Liturgy 1948 - 1975 by Annibale Bugnini CM, published in translation by the Liturgical Press, Collegeville, USA, 1990, pp. 8-11. Forty years after Father Bugnini wrote this Apologia, his description of events leading to the revision of the Sacred Rites makes for essential and unsettling reading.  His version of that program is no longer accepted at face value as more and more research into the ideology and politics of that period emerges, often being quite disedifying.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Paschal Greetings 2020

To all readers of this blog and to customers and friends of the Saint Bede Studio,  may many Graces be yours on the Day of our Lord's Resurrection.

On Easter Day 2020, the Shadow of the Cross looms large across a world stricken with plague.  But in this fearful moment, we look again to the optimistic Christian message that God has overcome Death - and all the awfulness, frailties, discord and disappointments of this earthly life - and loves each and every poor sinner. 

Christ is Risen !

Friday 10 April 2020

In this time of Affliction

The Pastoral Letter of John Bede,
by Divine Grace and favour of the Holy Apostolic See,
Archbishop of Sydney and Metropolitan,
on behalf of those who are suffering from the blighted harvest
and the floods of this present Year of Our Lord, 1864.

Dearly Beloved Children in Jesus Christ,

He that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not?
1st Epistle of Saint John 4 : 20.

These simple sacred words of the beloved apostle, how they stir our hearts! Saint John, likened to the eagle, for the sublimity of his doctrine concerning the great mysteries known to man only through Divine revelation in the Church of Christ; Saint John, the seer of Apocalyptic visions concerning the future of the Church; Saint John, [who] leaned on our Lord’s breast when the treachery of Judas, and of Judas-like men was heavy on his spirit; Saint John, to whom the mother of Jesus was given by her Son at that supreme moment of His passion; Saint John, who was so much, and had seen so much - what is the sum of the doctrine he preaches with so much earnestness and frequency? Nothing difficult to understand, nothing hard to practise, for the princely spirit of simple truth and love, nothing that needs or provokes discussion – “that we love one another, as he has given commanded unto us.” And then, that there be no mistake, no self-deceit, no resting in mere impulse and warm feeling, he shows, in those simple, keen, luminous words that we have just recalled to your memory, how we may know the truth about ourselves, whether we are genuine Christian men, or wordy, self-deceived deceivers. “He that loves not his brother whom he sees, how can he love God whom he sees not?” What a changed world this would be, Dearly Beloved, if men would be guided by such a rule and motive as is here implied! 

In all the terrible prospect that seems to lie in this world’s future, in all the sin and misery that are darkening it at this moment, we should still rejoice in gleams of the Divine presence, if we could see, even here and there, men proving their love to God by consistent persevering love of their fellows. How light then, comparatively, would be fears of wars, and earthquakes, and tempests; how much less should we be troubled by the sordid intrigues and schemes of politicians; how much less should we be disheartened by the real misery of the sins, and infidelities, and sacrileges, that abound, if we walked more diligently with our eyes fixed on this plain bright path traced for us by the beloved disciple. And indeed there are, thank God, those who walk in this path. Who they are, and how many, or how few they may be, we do not know, nor is it necessary we should. One thing only is necessary, that each one of you should take care to be in this path himself. The judgements of God are upon the earth, but whether they shall be to us judgements of reprobation and destruction or the chastisements and warnings of God’s tender love, this rests upon your correspondence with God’s grace. And, in view of these judgements, our best and safe course is to look simply what might have been our own share in provoking them. It is not always where they seem to fall heaviest that they are most deserved, that there is the heaviest guilt. 

Suffering in this world is not the final reckoning. Whether then such calamities as the blighted harvest in one part of our colony, and the devastation of floods in another, are judgements of a national kind, directed against our guiltiness as a nation, and in what degree they are so, it is less profitable and necessary to enquire than to examine what our own individual sins of omission and commission might have been. It might well be, that as a colony we have been arrogant and boastful, neglectful of God and of God’s service, training our children well and carefully for the gain and service of Mammon, but leaving their education for God - so far as the colony is concerned - to individual neglect or incapacity; we might have the weight of old cruelties to bond-servants about necks, we might have the blood of aboriginal inhabitants on our hands. God knows (may He be merciful to us) how much as a colony we have sinned in this wise. 

I do not say that at this season of truly penitential thoughts you should entirely pass over such considerations as these. There are blessings that we enjoy as a community, as a nation, and doubtless there are sins also that we have committed as a community, and there is an inheritance of sins. But, Dearly Beloved, what I have to say to you on this point is mainly this is: look each one of you to himself. See, lest any worldliness, any pride, any selfishness, any hard-heartedness, any irreverence, any sensuality, any neglect of spiritual interests in yourself, might have contributed to the mass of guilt that at length brings down on man the visible anger of God. This is your care. 

And do not be content with looking at sins of commission only. Sins of omission are weighty and deadly. Have you not duties to the community in which you live as well as to the individuals who compose it? Ah! It is a fearful reckoning when honestly looked into; but still let us look, that we may repent, and see God’s grace and mercy behind and above all. You have influence more or less on the national acts, the government, and character of the colony; has that influence gone to Christianise or to degrade and make heathen those acts, and that government? Hearken in these points also to your Christian conscience.

Dearly beloved, I have suggested so far the uses that may be made of our calamities, or of those of our friends and neighbours, as a matter of examination and self-abasement for Lent; but I have now to ask for the fruits of your faith, the alms that will give wings to your prayers. And I ask with some confidence that you will be generous in aiding those who are now suffering so heavily. I cannot here give you details of the loss and wretchedness which so many, in the inscrutable providence of God, are enduring, but it is unnecessary, for the public prints have informed you, and they are a matter of common sympathy and conversation. And what you have done before fills me with thankfulness and hope : you have given your money freely to relieve distress throughout the world. England, Ireland, France, India, all have been helped and comforted by your Christian devotion, true devotion of Saint John’s kind, the love of God that is seen in the love of your brethren. You will not fail, nor shame me now, you will again honour your Catholic name and faith. The cry of distress comes now from distant Donegal, or Lancashire, or Hindustan, but from near homes, the familiar names of Camden and Maitland. When the arms of your charity have reached to the extremities of the world, they must not be paralysed here, at what is to you a centre. 

There is an order in charity and so it should never cease to glow whenever there are men who struggle and suffer, yet it should be more intense in proportion as the all-wise Providence of God has placed its objects near to us duty or place. They are the voices of friends and kinsfolk that are calling upon us. As we are now crying to God for mercy upon ourselves, let us give an attentive ear to their misery. It is very deep, very overwhelming in its nature. Here is no failure of a mercantile venture, no disappointment of a gambling speculation, but destruction to the righteous hopes of honest, hard, patient labour. The toils and anxieties of many homes, of parents and children together labouring, and utterly lost. God has withheld from them their harvest. What is it? Is it that he is deaf to their prayers unthoughtful of their labours? No, but it is this. I am speaking to Christians, and you will understand me. He would have you supply to your brethren by your gifts the harvest that has failed in the order of nature, and He would gain for Himself a spiritual harvest in the works of your Christian faith and love. So will there have been this year two harvests instead of one, and that in an especial manner had a greater glory of God. You will do your part well, and the calamity of your friends and fellow-countrymen will be transformed into a blessing. 

The labours of the husbandman requiring, as they do, patience, industry, foresight, and trust in the future, call more than other earthly employments upon our sympathy when they are disappointed of their results. It seems almost as if humble faith in the course of God’s providence had received shock. The common lot of humanity, that man should earn his bread for the sweat of his brow, is at all times hard enough to be borne, how much more this affliction that God has laid upon our brethren! Their toil, their patience, their early and late anxiety, all aborted. They have laboured, but so far in vain; the food and clothing for themselves and their children, all gone; in some places considerable debt has been incurred for the fruitless seed, and the future is darkened beyond the present distress. The elements themselves, ordinary sources of benediction upon human toil, have been hostile to those who have deserved ordinary reward of their obedient labour at least as well as we.

It is a mystery, until we remember that God has not left us to the elements of material nature alone. He has planted in us, in our hearts, other elements which, in His plan and intention, are to complete and correct the operation of those others. Compassion, kindliness, the instincts of brotherhood, are His gifts as well as those higher gifts of Christian grace, and all these are intended to heal and remedy the hurts that our brothers have received from the viewless blight, and the resistless [sic] flood. Do you then show that you interpret aright the designs of God, and accept the occasion He offers you? Dry up as you may the bitter tears, and give new hope and courage to failing hearts. Sanctify your fast of Lent by a work that God has eminently chosen for such purpose. It may be that your ready open-handed liberality in this emergency, will give a spiritual fruitfulness to your season and penitence, and an Easter Joy such as you have never gained before. And, if any of you should perchance yourselves be wearing your lives under the weight and gloom of some providential chastisement, come forward the more eagerly, and help the suffering, and so our God may look graciously and speedily on you also in your time of need. These are the words that He Himself says to you, and such as you, for all time: “When thou shalt pour out thy soul” - it is, you see, no cold unsympathising gift, no stinted measure that He calls for – “when thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and shalt satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noon-day." (Isaiah 58:10)  May He, the giver of every good gift, inspire and bless your alms.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Archbishop Polding's Pastoral Letter for 1864 as contained in the anthology The Eye of Faith.


1. The Eye of Faith was printed by the Lowden Publishing Co., Kilmore Victoria in 1977.  The editors were Gregory Haines, Sister Mary Gregory Foster and Frank Brophy.  Special contribution to the volume were made by Professor Timothy Suttor and James Cardinal Freeman.

2. Concerning the floods which devastated Eastern Australia from 1860 - 1864, this page be consulted.

3. Reproduced from our blog on Australian Catholic history In Diebus illis.

Thursday 9 April 2020

The Mandatum - reposted

A 19th century engraving depicting the Pope, surrounded
by the Papal Court washing the feet of thirteen
poor men of Rome.
This rite took place in the Sistine Chapel on the
morning of Maundy Thursday.
One of the consequences of the Pandemic that is now gripping our world is that the Rite of the Washing of the Feet will typically not be celebrated on this Maundy Thursday.  There may be Communities of Religious were the rite will still be observed.  Indeed, in many places worldwide, the Rites of Maundy Thursday will not be celebrated at all.

The Catholic Encyclopædia (1907-1914) has an article on the history of the Mandatum, written by Herbert Thurston SJ, of which the following is an extract.  Father Thurston had written previously about the Mandatum in his monograph Lent and Holy Week (1904):

This tradition, we may believe, has never been interrupted, though the evidence in the early centuries is scattered and fitful. For example the Council of Elvira (A.D. 300) in Canon 48 directs that the feet of those about to be baptised are not to be washed by priests but presumably by clerics or at least lay persons. This practice of washing the feet at baptism was long maintained in Gaul, Milan, and Ireland, but it was not apparently known in Rome or in the East. In Africa the nexus between this ceremony and baptism became so close that there seemed danger of its being mistaken for an integral part of the rite of baptism itself (Augustine, Ep. LV, Ad Jan., n. 33). Hence the washing of the feet was in many places assigned to another day than that on which the baptism took place. In the religious orders the ceremony found favour as a practice of charity and humility. The Rule of St. Benedict directs that it should be performed every Saturday for all the community by him who exercised the office of cook for the week; while it was also enjoined that the abbot and the brethren were to wash the feet of those who were received as guests. The act was a religious one and was to be accompanied by prayers and psalmody, "for in our guests Christ Himself is honoured and received". The liturgical washing of feet (if we can trust the negative evidence of our early records) seems only to have established itself in East and West at a comparatively late date. In 694 the Seventeenth Synod of Toledo commanded all bishops and priests in a position of superiority under pain of excommunication to wash the feet of those subject to them. The matter is also discussed by Amalarius and other liturgists of the ninth century. Whether the custom of holding this Maundy (from Mandatum novum do vobis, the first words of the initial Antiphon) on Maundy Thursday, developed out of the baptismal practice originally attached to that day does not seem quite clear, but it soon became a universal custom in cathedral and collegiate churches. In the latter half of the twelfth century the pope washed the feet of twelve sub-deacons after his Mass and of thirteen poor men after his dinner. The Caeremoniale Episcoporum (1600) directs that the bishop is to wash the feet either of thirteen poor men or of thirteen of his canons. The bishop and his assistants are vested and the Gospel Ante diem festum paschae is ceremonially sung with incense and lights at the beginning of the function. Most of the sovereigns of Europe used also formerly to perform the Maundy. The custom is still retained at the Austrian and Spanish courts.
A number of points may be made here.  Although the origin of the Mandatum is a Divine Precept, which the Church has since earliest times considered binding, its expression and its symbolism are by no means clear in liturgical history. On the one hand, it is associated with the Catechumenate, on the other hand with the poor; yet again, a demonstration of the attitude of service which a bishop or religious superior ought to have towards his community.

The question of the Mandatum being linked to Ordination to the ministerial priesthood is somewhat less clear, although it is often spoken about.

What is quite clear, amongst various uncertainties, is that throughout its history, the Mandatum had no relationship with ordinary parish life: it was a rite which pertained to the Diocesan Cathedral or Church of a Religious Community.  Only since 1955, with the revisions of the Holy Week Liturgy approved by Pope Pius XII, has the Mandatum been included in the ceremonies of the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday and consequently, celebrated ordinarily in parishes. Perhaps this revision was not as laudable as was thought at the time.

In the last two decades, we have witnessed the spectacle of all sorts of curious and frightful additions to the Mandatum, advocated by tinpot liturgists (we will refrain from describing any of these dismal accretions).  And so, the symbolism of this ancient rite has become obscured again.  An unfortunate by-product of this trajectory is that the real focus of the Evening Mass of Maundy Thursday - the Institution of the Blessed Eucharist and Ministerial Priesthood - becomes obscured.

Happily, we note that in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite, the Mandatum is OPTIONAL. Its being observed at a time other than during the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday is something which, we might suggest, might be given serious consideration. Were that to happen, perhaps it would be of lesser consequence if the feet of women were also washed. 

Saturday 4 April 2020

In Passiontide

The vestments described in this post were commissioned by an esteemed customer of the Saint Bede Studio, from New York (USA).  The set comprised a chasuble, stole and two matching dalmatics.

These lovely and ample vestments were made from a purple-coloured ecclesiastical brocade and lined in a taup-shade of taffeta.  The orphrey was formed from one of the Studio's unique braids, Saint Nicolas, augmented with a brocade in black. 

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : Visit this page