Friday 24 December 2021

In this Holy Season 2021

To all friends, customers and readers of this Blog, sincere wishes for a Blessed Christmas.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill be made low; the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places, plain; and the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.
Isaiah 40:4-5.

Michael Sternbeck
The Saint Bede Studio
December 2021

Wednesday 22 December 2021

When the Shepherds Scatter the Sheep : continued

Mother of the Church
For almost five decades I have studied history and the related fields described as "heritage".  Over those many years, I have discovered that not many people are interested in either of these disciplines and - even if they are - it is often quite superficial or nostalgic.  Most people would be familiar with the situation where a building or site of historic importance - even a church - has been treated with disrespect by "developers".  In such moments, we observe an indifference to our heritage.

Something quite different, however, is a focussed contempt for our heritage, as opposed to a mere lack of interest.  What we have observed coming from the Vatican over the last several months is most certainly the former : contempt.

I wish to make a few points in this article, not demanding too much time of readers, since our focus should be on more beautiful moments in this Holy Season.

Within the Church, we do not perceive our heritage in quite the same way as secular society, instead of heritage we use the word Tradition from that definition of the Latin word which means a handing down or a handing on.  Our Catholic Tradition concerns the teachings of the Church, but it also applies to certain externals, such as our ritual worship.

The Church at present seems to be in the grip of an imperative for cultural revision, not unrelated to similar movements in the twentieth century in Russia, China and Germany (to name a few).  Part of the program of those atheistic regimes was the elimination and re-configuring of "heritage" into ideologies to which all persons must be subservient.  It sounds familiar, doesn't it?

After those 20th century tragedies, brought about by aggressive, godless ideologies and the obsessions of hate-filled dictators, and which caused the suffering of millions, who could believe that our Holy Mother the Church would find herself in the twenty-first century in the thrall of another populist leader bent on reconfiguring Her in his own image?  And yet ...

Every Catholic, no matter of what ecclesiological persuasion, age or race, ought to be concerned that the leaders of the Church are attempting to negate our Tradition and cast it as something to be sneered at and loathed.  For this is the message coming from the Vatican with none-too-much subtlety.

The old liturgies of the Roman Rite are not to everyone's taste; they don't encapsulate a form of perfection which can admit of no modification or improvement.  The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council recognised that, and sought to make some changes in the famous document Sacrosanctum Concilium.  But now this same document is used as a weapon by the Vatican in a manner never dreamed of by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council; whilst at the same time they attempt to convince the Faithful with their smooth words that restriction is exactly what the Fathers of the Council would really want for the sake of unity.

It must be admitted that there are some adherents of the Old Roman Rite who also have extreme views both political and ecclesiastical.  BUT the opponents of the Old Liturgy in Rome - without a great deal of discernment and an outright lack of charity - have used the extreme views of such a minority to persecute those who just wish to attend the form of Mass of their choice.  For those people, their religious heritage and personal sanctification are important.

There is something almost schizophrenic in these Roman regulations.  They are patently vindictive, undiscerning, lacking in charity (from churchmen?).  And they are most certainly motivated by ideology.  Ideology ... yes ... we remember what happened in the past when ideology prevailed.

Let us recognise these deformed acts for what they are and not be fooled that they are based in a charitable desire for unity.

Under God's Providence, may these aberrations be brought to a swift close and a new leader for our Holy Mother emerge whose declared determination is not "to make a mess", but rather to bind up the wounds of Christ's Faithful, a flock scattered by its shepherd.

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.

Michael Sternbeck

22nd December 2021.

Image : Mary Mother of the Church

Sunday 19 December 2021

When the Shepherds scatter the sheep

O Heavenly Lord

We beseech you continually to inspire the universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant, that all who confess your Name may agree in the truth of your Holy Word, and live in unity, and godly love.

We beseech you to give grace to the Bishop of Rome and to all bishops, priests and deacons, that they, by their integrity, piety and right-doctrine, may be faithful witnesses to your true and living Word and rightly and duly administer your holy Sacraments.

We beseech you to guide and prosper those who are labouring for the spread of your Gospel among the nations, and enlighten with your Spirit all places of education and learning; that the whole world may be filled with the knowledge of your truth.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday 18 December 2021

Rose Vestments in the Gothic Style

Rose vestments
Twice a year, the Church breaks the tone of its penitential seasons by the use of rose-coloured vestments.  Rose-coloured vestments were never commonplace and they still are not.  Many different colours have been deemed by the Church as acceptable as liturgical rose.  Some of these are a salmon shade; some a silvery-pink, almost mushroom-colour; some close to what we would call Bishop's purple or fuchsia; and some red with overtones of gold.

The vestments were made from dupion silk in a quite lovely shade of rose and fully lined in a taup-coloured taffeta.  The vestments were ornamented with a braid from the range of the Studio's unique offerings, called Saint Dunstan.  The braid is in colours of platinum, violet and white upon a crimson background.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : At this page.

Rose vestments

Tuesday 14 December 2021

Vestments in Honour of the Blessed Virgin

Marian vestments
This set of vestments, in the Gothic Revival style, was prepared by the Studio for a Canadian ordinand in 2020.

This very popular range of vestments we call Ave Maris Stella. The vestments are made from an ecclesiastical brocade in the shade of ivory and lined in Royal blue taffeta.  The ornament is formed from one of the Saint Bede Studio's unique braids, named Stella.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : This page

The Saint Bede Studio

Marian vestments


Monday 13 December 2021

The Colours of Advent : An Annual Post

Often it is asserted by liturgical commentators and other internet experts, that there are "correct" colours for the vestments used during Lent and Advent. Curious as to the history of these colours in Liturgical use, some years ago we researched and posted an article  here and here, about use of penitential colours for the Seasons of Advent and Lent. If you have wondered what colour the Church recommends for these Seasons, you might find the article illuminating.

We include here an historic work of art to illustrate the practice of our forebears. This work (adjacent) was painted by an artist known as The Master of Osservanza in the year 1440 and depicts a Low Mass being offered at a side chapel in the Siena Cathedral (Italy).

Some observations. The chasuble being worn by the celebrant is violet: in other words, much the same colour as the flower "violets". It is a blue-ish colour, not purple and it is not too dark either. The chasuble is the full conical shape and is ornamented with a simple column-orphrey of dark fabric (possibly even black). Most likely, the front of the chasuble would have been decorated with the familiar "tau". The celebrant is wearing decorative apparels on his alb and amice, which match the colour of the chasuble's ornament. That is a very typical practice of the Mediaeval period. Note, too, the very full folds of the alb.

We see, also, that the young cleric assisting the celebrant is wearing a full-length surplice or rochet, according to the style typically found in Renaissance Italy. Those who claim that such surplices are a "Church of England", or a "Low Church Party" garment should note this well.

Lastly, the altar itself. It is clothed in a dark antependium or altar frontal, ornamented with scarlet red. On the altar is a Crucifix and a single candle. Although it may seem peculiar that there is but a single candle instead of a pair, it might be remarked that not until the 16th century was it a usual practice to have a pair of candlesticks on an altar.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Advent Vestments

Recently, the Saint Bede Studio provided this simple set of violet vestments to a Benedictine Monastery in the United States.  It is part of our economy range of vestments, called Saint Anselm.

The vestments were made from silk in a lighter shade of violet and ornamented with a column, front and back.  The ornament was formed from silver dupion silk and one of the Studio's unique braids Saint Edmund (based on a design of AWN Pugin).  

The chasuble was unlined, but faced at the neckline, helping it to sit well and not crumple.  Also provided with the set was an amice apparel, shewn in some of the images.

Click on the images for an enlarged view. 

Violet vestments

The chasuble shewn with the amice apparel.

Detail of the amice apparel.

The neckline of the chasuble shewn without the amice apparel.


Saturday 27 November 2021

Festal Vestments in the Gothic Style

Festal vestments
This vestment, in a simple Gothic style, was made as a concelebration chasuble complementing a richer chasuble and dalmatics previously made by the Studio for an American parish.

The vestments are made from a cream-coloured dupion silk and lined in brass-gold taffeta.  The ornament is formed from one of the Saint Bede Studio's unique braids, named Saint Marie.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : This page

Tuesday 2 November 2021

All Souls Day : 2021

Black vestments
On this Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, the Saint Bede Studio is pleased to present this set of vestments, which we call Absolve, made for an American customer.

The vestments, in the Borromeon form, were made from a black brocade and fully lined in a bronze-coloured taffeta.  They were ornamented in a brocade of black and gold (which depicts the Crucifixion) outlined with a foliated braid in black and gold.

Please click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : This page.

The Saint Bede Studio

Black vestments

The Saint Bede Studio

Monday 11 October 2021

Vestments for the Season "Per Annum" 2021 : 3

The Saint Bede Studio
In this post, we are pleased to present a distinctive set of Green vestments, made for a North American parish in 2020. These vestments, in the Gothic Revival Style, were made from a lovely English ecclesiastical brocade and ornamented with one of the unique braids of the Saint Bede Studio "English Rose", complemented with a narrow galloon.  The vestments were lined in a darker red shade of taffeta.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : This page.

Green vestments


Green vestments

Thursday 23 September 2021

Priestly Ordinations 2021 : 2

White Gothic vestments
In this post, we are pleased to describe a set of vestments in the Saint Bede Studio's Saint Austin style, which was commissioned by an ordinand from the United States.

These Gothic Revival vestments were made from an ecclesiastical brocade in a lovely shade of ivory, and ornamented with the Studio's unique braids.  The braid illustrated is called ChiRho.  The lining of these vestments was formed from a moss-green shade of taffeta.

Please pray for all newly-ordained priests.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : This page.

Gothic Revival vestments

The Saint Bede Studio


Wednesday 15 September 2021

Priestly Ordinations 2021 : 1

In this post, we are pleased to describe a set of vestments in the Saint Bede Studio's Saint Philip Neri style, which was commissioned by an ordinand from Canada.

These vestments were made from an ecclesiastical brocade in a lovely shade of green, and ornamented in the Roman manner with a damask of burgundy and old gold with outlining galloons in the same colours.  The lining of these vestments was formed from a deep red shade of taffeta.

Please pray for all newly-ordained priests.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : This page.


Monday 30 August 2021


To our customers.  Most of eastern Australia has been in lockdown for more than a month, with no date set for its relaxation.  The city of Sydney has been in lockdown for considerably longer.  The Saint Bede Studio is located outside the worst affected areas of the state of New South Wales. 

Our daily vestment-making work continues here, but operating under various external difficulties, over which we have no control.

We continue to do our best for our customers and ask for your prayers and patience. 


Saturday 28 August 2021

Vestments for the Season "Per Annum" 2021 : 2

Green vestmentsRecently, the Saint Bede Studio completed this set of vestments in the Saint Martin style for a returning customer, a young priest from Croatia.  These vestments are both ample and simply decorated.  They are lightweight and comfortable to wear.  Our customer requested a colour-scheme of green and red.

The vestments are of handmade dupion silk from India and ornamented with a narrow braid, being a unique design of the Studio, called Saint Raymund.  The braid is in colours of burgundy, taup and red.  The ornamental scheme is enriched with a chevron of brocade around the neckline in green and black.  The set is entirely lined with a deep red-coloured taffeta.

Please click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : Visit this page

The Saint Bede Studio

Saint Martin vestments

Wednesday 25 August 2021

A Prayer to the Mother of God

O Mary, dearest Mother,
how much we love you, and yet in reality, how little.

For you to teach us what we ought to know :
you teach us what Christ Jesus is to us, and what we ought to be for Him.

Dearly Beloved Mother, how close to God you are!
In the measure that we know God, we remind ourselves of you, Mother of God!

Obtain for us the grace of loving your Son, 

obtain the grace of loving you. Amen.

Attributed to the Servant of God, Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930).

Monday 16 August 2021

Papal Pretensions

Recently, a statement was issued by an Archbishop in which he commented how grieved he was about the disrespect that has been shewn and slanders that have been made about Pope Francis in response to the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes.   EN 1  Certainly we regret that the Archbishop is aggrieved and hope his grief may be short-lived. It certainly will be more short-lived, however, than those who love the more ancient use of the Roman Mass and who have been grievously affected by the strict regulations of the above-mentioned motu proprio.  Might what the Archbishop calls “slander” be described by others as parrheisia? EN 2  It is the present Bishop of Rome who has called on several occasions for this forthright speech. But when it is given - it has been demonstrated so frequently - it is not so welcome. 

In an article such as this, it is not possible to give a paragraph-by-paragraph review of Pope Francis’ letter to the worldwide episcopate, which elucidated the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes. There are two essential claims made by the Pope, however, which demand some examination. The first is that the Missale Romanum of 1970 is the “highest expression” of the wishes of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.  EN 3  The second claim is that having two distinct uses of the Roman Rite is damaging the Unity of the Church and the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council. Because of the second claim he has felt compelled to take action. 


In his letter to the worldwide episcopate, accompanying the motu proprio, Pope Francis makes the following statement :

From the vota submitted by the Bishops there emerged a great insistence on the full, conscious and active participation of the whole People of God in the liturgy, along lines already indicated by Pius XII in the encyclical Mediator Dei on the renewal of the liturgy. The constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium confirmed this appeal, by seeking “the renewal and advancement of the liturgy” and by indicating the principles that should guide the reform. In particular, it established that these principles concerned the Roman Rite, and other legitimate rites where applicable, and asked that “the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigour to meet present-day circumstances and needs”. On the basis of these principles a reform of the liturgy was undertaken, with its highest expression in the Roman Missal, published in editio typica by St. Paul VI and revised by St. John Paul II. EN 4

Articles in the motu proprio itself put these arguments into legislation: 

Art. 1. The liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite. 

Art. 3. The bishop of the diocese in which until now there exist one or more groups that celebrate according to the Missal antecedent to the reform of 1970: § 1. is to determine that these groups do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs.  EN 5

This may be the crux of the Pope’s argumentation in the motu proprio, namely, that the Council Fathers called for the renewal of the Church’s Liturgy. That is undoubtedly and unassailably true. But the Pope then goes on to claim that the New Order of Mass promulgated in 1969 is the "highest expression" of what the Council Fathers asked for. Exactly what does that mean? Does it mean that the Missale Romanum (and in particular the Order of Mass) promulgated by Pope Paul in 1969 is the "unique expression" of the mandate of the Council Fathers? Was the liturgical reform – as realised in the New Missal of Pope Paul “dictated by Vatican Council II” ? It is on this particular and most important point that the Pope is mistaken. It is not a new claim, but it is untrue. 

Over the last 52 years, since Pope Paul promulgated this new Missal, that claim has been made again and again. I do not wish to question in any way the legitimacy of Pope Paul’s new Missal. Others have discussed the degree to which it may be described as “traditional”. I do not wish to enter into those debates in this article. I simply add my voice to many liturgical commentators and historians who have rejected the following claim :

What the Fathers of the Council considered, agreed and voted upon, and which was elucidated in the document Sacrosanctum Concilium, was realised in the Missal (and subsequent liturgical books) published in 1969 / 70 by Pope Paul VI. 

Such a claim has been rejected because it is contrary to reason and evidence. Consider this : how could the Fathers of the Council have expressed a desire for an Order of Mass that they not only had no conception of, but also had no experience of? 

It was quite clear from Sacrosanctum Concilium what the Fathers wanted. They wished for adjustments, requested modernisations, so that the Rite of Mass might be more accessible. That is what the Fathers voted on. They did not call for the abolition of a Missal which was the only experience of the Western Rite of Mass most of them had. 

Their wishes found expression in those Missals which were published in the year 1965 for various language groups. There was no typical edition in Latin of those liturgical books, which subsequently came to be called missals of the Interim Rite. They were published in Italian, French, German, Spanish, English, Portugese, etc. These were missals in part in Latin, in part in various vernacular languages and the basis of them was an adjustment of the Missale Romanum of 1962 : that Order of Mass codified in 1570 after the Council of Trent, but which extended back in a completely recognisable form centuries to the time of Saint Gregory the Great and earlier in its essence and its shape. This development of the Mass and its antiquity is obviously misunderstood by those who prepared this letter to the worldwide episcopate. They seem to believe that Pope Pius V developed a new Missal following the Council of Trent.  In this inaccurate interpretation of liturgical history, Pope Francis is claiming that his own actions (and those of Pope Paul VI) are legitimised by a precedent set by Pope Pius V. This is a most important point. 

When in 1970 Pope Paul VI promulgated the New Missal, he claimed that it was fully in accordance with Tradition, even though it was demonstrably not. Let us be very clear. The Missale Romanum published in 1970 was not issued on the Authority of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, it was issued solely on the authority of Pope Paul VI. To suggest otherwise is – at best – disingenuous. What occurred with the promulgation of that New Missal was not an adaptation, but a replacement of one rite with a newly-devised one. At least with some honesty, it has always been referred to as The New Order of Mass and never was passed-of as The Restored Order of Mass.

Pope Francis is claiming what his predecessors and most of the bishops of the World have accepted, but that does not make it true. An attempt by Pope Benedict to bring balance and honesty back into this liturgical sleight-of-hand has now been dramatically rejected by his Successor. 

Cardinal Sarah has written: 

What is at stake is therefore much more serious than a simple question of discipline. If she [the Church] were to claim a reversal of her faith or of her liturgy, in what name would the Church dare address the world? Her only legitimacy is her consistency in her continuity. EN 6

In the letter to the bishops, the Pope further writes : 

It must therefore be maintained that the Roman Rite, adapted many times over the course of the centuries according to the needs of the day, not only be preserved but renewed “in faithful observance of the Tradition”. Whoever wishes to celebrate with devotion according to earlier forms of the liturgy can find in the reformed Roman Missal according to Vatican Council II all the elements of the Roman Rite, in particular the Roman Canon which constitutes one of its more distinctive elements. 

The Roman Rite was indeed adapted many times over the course of centuries, but rites were not abolished, not even by Pius V (as is claimed). Furthermore, if the New Missal is so “traditional” – as is asserted - why is it that so many have expressed a preference in their manner of worship for the Old Mass instead? Why would there be any dissatisfaction if the New Missal were "fully traditional"? 

In another passage of his letter, Pope Francis writes (entirely giving the game away): 

St. Paul VI, recalling that the work of adaptation of the Roman Missal had already been initiated by Pius XII, declared that the revision of the Roman Missal, carried out in the light of ancient liturgical sources, had the goal of permitting the Church to raise up, in the variety of languages, “a single and identical prayer,” that expressed her unity. This unity I intend to re-establish throughout the Church of the Roman Rite. 

These words : “a single and identical prayer” are not from the deliberations of the Second Vatican Council, which espoused no such imposed uniformity, but are the words of Paul VI in his Constitution on the Roman Missal (1969). This was an imposed unity, determined by a considered and deliberate decision of Paul VI, and not the wishes of the Council Fathers. It is by similar imposition that Pope Francis has developed this motu proprio with the undisguised intention of extinguishing the Old Mass.

It is a point that has been, and continues to be debated : whether a Pope ought to impose something by his own authority which differs from the decisions of an Ecumenical Council. This point is beyond the scope of this article and the competence of its author. It is nevertheless, also, a most important point.

The Church, indeed, is not a democracy, but most Catholics in the world live in nations which have democratic government. It allows government to consult the people on policies it intends to implement and not just pass laws based on partisan politics and the ideas of think tanks. Such processes allow the people to judge the credibility and performance of its governments and vote accordingly. It would be safe to comment that the Pope has forgotten just what democracy is (if he ever knew it). Unity is not demanded or imposed, it is built. And whilst doctrine is not and cannot be determined by plebiscite, the good government of the Church requires more than the enactment of wide-sweeping legislation, based on unsubstantiated claims and particular prejudices.


It seems quite clear from the Pope’s letter that he regards diversity in liturgical rites as contradicting and destructive of the intentions of the Second Vatican Council. Yet in the document Unitatis Redintegratio (published in 1964) we find :

All in the Church must preserve unity in essentials. But let all, according to the gifts they have received enjoy a proper freedom, in their various forms of spiritual life and discipline, in their different liturgical rites, and even in their theological elaborations of revealed truth. In all things let charity prevail. If they are true to this course of action, they will be giving ever better expression to the authentic catholicity and apostolicity of the Church. EN 7

Is not this statement of the Fathers of the Council directly contradicted in Pope Francis’ letter to the worldwide episcopate? And yet he writes : 

The path of the Church must be seen within the dynamic of Tradition “which originates from the Apostles and progresses in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit” ( DV 8). A recent stage of this dynamic was constituted by Vatican Council II where the Catholic episcopate came together to listen and to discern the path for the Church indicated by the Holy Spirit. To doubt the Council is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro in an ecumenical council, and, in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church. EN 8

Pope Francis has done what he is accusing adherents of the Traditional liturgy of doing : doubting the Council. 

Furthermore, in his desire to eliminate the Old Mass, the Pope even seeks to make little of the fact that the Roman Rite never was the only rite permitted in the Latin Church; he seems to treat liturgical diversity itself as a threat to the integral unity of the Church. There is something totalitarian about this approach. In reality, both the Latin and Eastern Churches have enjoyed a rich variety of liturgical practices from the beginnings of the Church. Until the statement by Pope Paul VI in his constitution on the Roman Missal (1969) there never has been an insistence within the Church wherein the unity of the Church was expressed by all worshipping according to the same Rite. The Fathers of the Council certainly never called for such a uniformity. This is not tradition, nor is it in accordance with the Second Vatican Council.

The Bishop of Rome writes in his letter to the bishops [my emphases] : 

With the passage of thirteen years [namely in the year 2020] I instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to circulate a questionnaire to the Bishops regarding the implementation of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. The responses reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me, and persuades me of the need to intervene … An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division. Responding to your requests, I take the firm decision to abrogate all the norms, instructions, permissions and customs that precede the present Motu proprio, and declare that the liturgical books promulgated by the saintly Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, constitute the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite. 

The Pope goes on to claim, in an overtly judgemental way, that the establishment of Personal Parishes has been based on “the desires and wishes of individual priests [rather] than the real need of the holy People of God. ” 

With such wide-ranging assertions, reading the Pope’s letter to the Bishops causes great discomfort. Claims are made, but there is no transparency. We are left wondering why Pope Francis instigated this questionnaire, and about the tenor of its questions. We may be puzzled why the Faithful or priests who offer the Old Mass were not consulted, but only bishops. Perhaps we are hesitant about how representative the responses were when some commentators have reported that not all the bishops received a questionnaire, whilst others responded positively to the celebration of the Old Mass in their Dioceses. Did those bishops who responded unfavourably to the questionnaire indicate that there was a rejection of the legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council in Old Mass communities in their Dioceses? But perhaps it might also be that other factors were causing discontent amongst Old Mass communities during 2020, for example, the COVID pandemic and the mistrust generated by the Church’s handling of the sexual abuse crisis. We would hope that any Bishop who had such concerns about a parish would enter into a dialogue with that community and take advantage of an opportunity for teaching and pastoral accompaniment. We would also hope that the Holy See was equally interested in reading positive responses from Bishops, in addition to complaints. Would we be found too cynical if we doubted that occurred?

At the moment [August 2021], we do not have answers to any of this. In response to the harsh terms of this motu proprio, we have been asked to be “open” and “docile.” But we also entitled to rely on our own intellect and experience in assessing claims that have been made as the basis for this decision. We may sincerely and emphatically disagree with Pope Francis. Disagreement is not equivalent to disrespect – although it appears far too many people in this post-modern age interpret anything other than 100% agreement as intolerance and disrespect. When the Bishop of Rome makes formal claims in issuing legislation, we are not being disrespectful, nor unfaithful Catholics, nor are we contradicting the Pope if we ask for credible information that what is being claimed is actually the case. If the Bishop of Rome contradicts himself, or the Second Vatican Council, we are entitled to doubt the force of a legislative act. For, surely after all the scandals of recent years within the Church it has been learned that anytime there is a fudging of the truth, deception or manipulation or a clumsy attempt to control people, the result will be a loss of trust and confidence? Does such a heavy-handed approach square-up with the concept that the post-Vatican II Church is an “adult church”?


The upheavals over the last eight years of the present pontificate raise a question much more serious than an attempt to suppress the availability of a Rite of Mass. Truthfully, this motu proprio directly affects only a small percentage of the world’s Catholics. But it indirectly affects the entire Church, because this motu proprio is but the latest example of the problem, which may be summarised in one sentence : What does the Church do when it discovers that it is being governed by a delinquent Pope?

The time has arrived again in the history of the Church, when the topic of the charism of the Roman Pontiff needs to be discussed and better understood. We know about Papal Infallibility, but not so often do we hear about the limits of the Authority of the Pope. The role of the Pope in the modern world seems now to have expanded far beyond anything experienced by the Church in past centuries. It is not disrespectful or un-Catholic to point out that the Fathers of the Church ought to discuss this crucial matter, theoretically and practically, so that the Church is not put through again the turmoil it presently suffers. 

With my limited scholarship, I cannot present any arguments here on an issue so central to the Church and so profound. I can only suggest that such a discussion should take place and that it be based on the Church’s traditions respecting the Office of the Bishop of Rome. This extract from the Constitution on Papal Infallibility of the First Vatican Council might be a good starting point [my emphases]: 

6. For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles. Indeed, their apostolic teaching was embraced by all the venerable fathers and reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this See of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Savior to the prince of his disciples: "I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." EN 9

Let us not, however, hold our breath waiting for the present Bishop of Rome to open a debate on the limits of the Papal Office. 


In concluding this article, I wish to consider the tone of the Pope’s documents. So many commentators have written about the harshness and mean-spiritedness of this motu proprio and its accompanying letter; its failure to be merciful, its closure to dialogue, its lack of provision to allow bishops the time to consider it and judge whether what is claimed applies to the Faithful of their Dioceses. There is something authoritarian, severe and exaggerated in the tone of this motu proprio that has caused people to react strongly. It has engendered not reverence, but a mistrust of the person of Pope Francis, who has overstepped the mark under the veil of the “ministry of unity.”

It is but truthful to observe that in Pope Francis there is an incapacity – or refusal - to acknowledge that some of his behaviours and policies are divisive – the opposite of unifying – and that they give rise to distrust in the hearts and minds of the Faithful. He seems incapable of accepting any disagreement with his ideas and policies and reacts resentfully when he is opposed. How sad to find these characteristics in the Vicar of Christ. 

In a magnificent article, published 13th August, Cardinal Sarah has expressed this with the great charity:

A father cannot introduce mistrust and division among his faithful children. He cannot humiliate some by setting them against others. He cannot ostracize some of his priests. The peace and unity that the Church claims to offer to the world must first be lived within the Church.  EN 10 

The Pope begins the motu proprio by stating that bishops in their dioceses are the "Guardians of Tradition" (Traditionis custodes): an orthodox and reasonable proposition. Except, that is not what Pope Francis actually wants from this motu proprio. He instructs the bishops and their own authority in the matter is limited to his instructions. He lays down these instructions in the finest detail. But the world’s bishops are not branch managers of a corporation with the Pope as Chief Executive Officer; they are the Successors of the Apostles. Reading the instructions to the bishops in the motu proprio, these words of Christ in Saint Matthew’s Gospel spring to mind : 

Do what they tell you, then, continue to observe what they tell you, but do not imitate their actions. They fasten up burdens too heavy to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not stir a finger to lift them. (Saint Matthew's Gospel 23:3-4)

It seems to this writer that the decisions of the Pope, as outlined in the motu proprio and its accompanying letter, are not based on widespread concerns expressed to him by questionnaire-responses from the Bishops of the world. I suggest that that is a disingenuous cover-story, even an intended distraction. Much more credible, in my view, are these two factors : firstly the Pope’s own personal and undisguised antipathy towards the Old Liturgy and secondly, the concealed politicking and elitism of the Roman Curia. If the above suppositions are true, neither of them reveals the Vatican in a very honourable or pastoral light. It would seem much more likely that “widespread concern” about (perceived) divisions caused by adherents of the Old Mass, arises not primarily from the Bishops of the world, but a group of the Pope’s circle who are extremely unhappy with the tone of countless articles on the Internet, calling into question the Pope, the Vatican and many things which they would prefer not to have discussed. Are decisions about the governance of the Church now being based on what curial officials and friends read on the Internet? If so, what an abyss we have fallen into. Sadly, if there ever was proof needed of how out of touch Pope Francis is with the spiritual needs, aspirations and outlook of the Faithful worldwide, the publication of Traditionis custodes is it.

Let us fervently turn to Mary, Mother of the Church, the Help of Christians in this unsettling hour asking her intercession to restore unity, right-teaching, harmony and charity to the Church.


The blog of the Saint Bede Studio is a place which is deliberately kept free of polemic. It is intended to advertise the work of the Studio - primarily the manufacture of vestments – but it also has always commented on various aspects of the sacred liturgy and its history. I describe myself as a liturgiologist - even if no one has ever heard of the term. I am not a journalist nor an ecclesiastical commentator. The flagrancy of this motu proprio, however, has motivated me to break my rule on not criticising in public the present Bishop of Rome. So much has been suffered over the last eight years. The Pope's undisciplined, ill-informed teaching is not above respectful reproach and charitable correction. It offends me deeply that the present Vicar of Christ, who has become such a profound source of division in the Church, should arrogate to himself Unity by imposition, rather than by charity and dialogue. For this reason, I can remain silent no longer. My views are of no particular consequence; I simply wish to add them to those who are also scandalised by this Papal act. To any reader offender by my considered and sincerely held views, I ask your indulgence.

This article is under the copyright of the Saint Bede Studio.


I urge anyone interested in these matters to read the online article, by H.E. Robert Cardinal Sarah:

On the credibility of the Catholic Church

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

EN 1 Statement published by Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco  Whilst it is admirable that the Archbishop called for restraint in the light of the publication of the motu proprio, it is a puzzle why he should choose to defend the Bishop of Rome on a matter which is so indefensible.

EN 2  Parrheisia  the Greek word for speaking freely, in particular, speaking the truth openly.

EN 3 Although the Constitution on the Roman Missal was promulgated in 1969, the new Missale Romanum was not published until 1970.

EN 4:

EN 5 

EN 6

EN 7

EN 8

EN 9  The Constitution of the First Vatican Council Pastor Aeternus

EN 10

Saturday 14 August 2021

Tuesday 10 August 2021

Too Many Words (re-posted)

Pope S. Paul VI at the Yankee Stadium NY 1965.
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?

Sunday 8 August 2021

The Ethos of the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite

In 1970, when the New Order of Mass was introduced, much was changed pertaining to the celebration of Mass and everything associated with it. The nature of the Mass, of course, did not change, but how it was presented changed very markedly. It was far more than a change from Latin to English: it involved a change in emphasis. In trying to simplify the Sacred Liturgy and make it more readily comprehensible, the architects of the New Order of Mass emphasised the communal aspect of the Mass. Typically, the celebrant stands on one side of the altar, facing the congregation, and all are gathered around the table of the Lord, to partake of the Sacred Banquet. Very often there is a strong emphasis on active external participation. 

When the celebrant is not facing the congregation, however, the entire atmosphere of the Mass is changed: both priest and people are facing the same direction to pray. Many have forgotten that from earliest Christian times, Mass was celebrated looking towards the rising sun (a great symbol of the Resurrection, and of Christ’s Second Coming in Glory) : everyone faced this direction. Furthermore, the Mass is not limited to the confines of the building in which it is being celebrated, but is a cosmic event, involving the angels and saints and the souls of the faithful departed who are yet to receive their eternal reward. Simply by changing the position of the celebrant, a different sense of the Mass as a sacred event is conveyed to all present. The great silences, the solemn ritual actions of the celebrant and the beauty of the ancient Latin prayers, all reinforce the mysterious and sacred atmosphere of this More Ancient Use of the Roman Rite. 

The sense of the sacred is not only manifest in the celebration of the Liturgy itself, but in all the things that surround it: the way the celebrant is vested, the manner in which the altar is decorated, the manner in which the celebrant and his ministers conduct themselves in the sanctuary - all of these things are governed by rules which the Church in her wisdom adopted over the course of centuries. 

The vestments, designed for use in the Sacred Liturgy, are required to be blessed. The colour of these vestments varies according to the liturgical season or feast: violet and purple for Advent and Lent; white for Christmas, Easter and Saints’ days; red for Pentecost and for the Apostles and Martyrs; green for the time before Lent and after Pentecost; rose for the mid-point Sundays of Advent and Lent and black for Masses of the dead. 

Just as the celebrant puts on vestments for the Sacred Liturgy, so, too, the chalice and the altar are vested. The altar, which signifies Christ himself and upon which the Sacrifice of the Mass is offered, is vested in a frontal which matches the colour of the celebrant’s vestments. Upon the altar, three cloths made of linen rest. In the middle of the altar a large Cross is placed between the candlesticks. The number of candles is graded according to the solemnity of the occasion, two, four or six. 

The Church has regulated all these things, in order to create a certain image around and to preserve a certain attitude to the Mass. There are other things concerning the More Ancient Use of the Roman Rite about which the Church has made certain regulations; such things are also designed to preserve the sacredness of the Mass and the sanctuary where it is celebrated. At this form of Mass, those receiving Holy Communion must do so on the tongue, not in the hand. Unless there is some disability, those receiving Holy Communion should kneel before the altar at the Communion rail. The same laws of fasting which govern the New Order of Mass also govern the More Ancient Use of the Roman Rite.

An extract from The Order of Mass compiled by the Saint Bede Studio and published in 2008 by the Ignatius Press.

Thursday 5 August 2021

Precious Mitre

Precious mitre
Earlier this year, the Saint Bede Studio completed a precious mitre for a bishop in the United States.  The mitre was made from a magnificent brocade in colours of old gold and deep red with figured ornament of brighter gold metallic thread.  The mitre was lined in dupion silk in a subdued shade of gold.  The brocade being so decorative, a simple braid was used to form the circulus and titulus ornament.

Please click on the image for a larger view.

Saturday 24 July 2021

Vestments for the Season "Per Annum" 2021 :1

 The Saint Bede Studio has completed this set of vestments for a customer in the United States.

These vestments, in the Borromeon form, were made from a lovely shade of green dupion silk and lined in deep red taffeta.  The ornament was formed by a rich brocade in colours of burgundy and gold, trimmed with a galloon in the same colours.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.


Tuesday 20 July 2021

On "Traditionis Custodes"

The Saint Bede Studio will continue to assist all priest-customers who place commission with us for sets of vestments to be used for the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite.

The Saint Bede Studio expresses its solidarity with priests and members of Christ's Faithful who feel a sense of bewilderment at the provisions and un-pastoral character of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes.

The Saint Bede Studio expresses its solidarity with any member of Holy Church who feels a sense of desolation in perceiving that what he or she holds to be a sacred, beautiful and nurturing Rite for the worship of God could be held in such manifest contempt by the Vicar of Christ. 

The Saint Bede Studio disassociates itself from the assertion that the attempted suppression of the Traditional Roman Liturgy is anything other than an abuse of ecclesiastical authority. 

The Saint Bede Studio rejects the tired assertion that the Unity of the Church demands that all the Catholic Faithful worship under one Rite.

The Saint Bede Studio believes that the Church is not to be envisioned in bellicose terminology, on the one hand, or disingenuous demands for Unity on the other, but rather must always be considered as the Body of Christ and a Community of His Faithful, worshipping Him humbly in spirit and in truth.

The Saint Bede Studio believes that the dispositions of the Popes S' John Paul II and Benedict XVI as expressed in their letters "motu proprio" Ecclesia Dei adflicta and Summorum Pontificum typify the generosity of spirit, intellectual rigour, honesty and solicitude for the Faithful which ought to be characteristic of all Papal acts.

The Saint Bede Studio implores the bishops of the world - notwithstanding the provisions of Traditionis Custodes and its accompanying letter - to act as true pastors, with a benevolence and tender concern for all those who are discouraged and scandalised by this motu proprio.  Fathers in Christ, please do not scatter, but gather together in charity and generosity the sheep entrusted to you.  

The Saint Bede Studio earnestly prays for the protection of Our Ladye Help of Christians upon the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite and those who wish to worship God according to that Use.

Michael Sternbeck

20th July 2021.

Monday 19 July 2021

A Prayer During Times of Affliction

Almighty, Eternal God, by ever giving strength to our weakness, you enable the Church to flourish even amidst its trials, so that when it appears to men to be utterly cast down, then rather does it gloriously prevails.  Whilst then, it accepts affliction as a proving of its faith, let it persevere, by your grace, in triumphant loyalty.  Amen.

A Collect from the Missal of Robert of Jumieges, 11th century.

This edifying image of Holy Mass being offered at the Benedictine Abbey of Downside (Bath, United Kingdom) is from the Facebook page of Father Terence M. Naughtin OFM (Conv.).

Saturday 17 July 2021

For the Church in an Hour of Need

O Heavenly Lord

We beseech you continually to inspire the universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant, that all who confess your Name may agree in the truth of your Holy Word, and live in unity, and godly love.

We beseech you to give grace to Francis, the Bishop of Rome and to all bishops, priests and deacons, that they may, both by their life and doctrine, set forth your true and living Word and rightly and duly administer your holy Sacraments.

We beseech you to guide and prosper those who are labouring for the spread of your Gospel among the nations, and enlighten with your Spirit all places of education and learning; that the whole world may be filled with the knowledge of your truth.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday 16 July 2021


The Saint Bede Studio wishes to announce that from this date, all new customers ordering Low Mass sets will be provided with maniples at a 50% discount of the usual price.

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel 2021.