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 the United States 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. 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. The Archbishop refers to “slanders”. Not pretending to have read anything near the totality of the outpouring of dismay about this motu proprio, I cannot comment on the accuracy of the Archbishop's claim that some remarks have slandered the Pope. Nevertheless, might what the Archbishop calls “slander” be described by others as parrheisia? EN 1  It is the present Bishop of Rome who has called on several occasions for this forthright speech. But when it is given, it isn't so welcome. 

In his statement, the Archbishop remarks : 

As the visible head of the Church, the Pope has a global vision of Church life and can perceive things that we cannot from our more local perspective.  EN 2 

The Archbishop's assertion, of course, presupposes that the Pope informs himself fully, and that he listens with openness to those who have differing opinions on weighty matters. Does the Archbishop’s claim about the Pope’s wider perspective also presume that the Faithful are unable to understand the needs of the Church more widely than their own Diocese? If something is amiss with the Church in Germany, might those not living in Germany yet understand that what is occurring is harmful to the Unity of the Church? Did the Bishop of Rome understand how deeply scandalised many Catholics (and Protestants) were when he took part in a rite in the Vatican venerating the South American pagan goddess Pachamama? We need not extend this list. 

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, 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 two online articles, one by H.E. Robert Cardinal Sarah and the other by Dom Alcuin Reid OSB:

On the credibility of the Catholic Church

Does "Traditionis Custodes" pass Liturgical History 101 ?

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

EN 1  Parrheisia  the Greek word for speaking freely, in particular, speaking the truth openly.

EN 2 Statement published by Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco 

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.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Red vestments in the Gothic Revival Style

Red Gothic Revival Vestments
As the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, we are pleased to present this post about a set of red vestments recently completed for a returning customer, a young priest in the USA.

This vestment, in the Studio's Saint Austin design, was made from a beautiful English ecclesiastical brocade and lined in blue taffeta. The vestments are ornamented with an orphrey braid of the Studio's own design called Saint Chad (directly based on the work of AWN Pugin) in colours of red, blue and gold.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.


The Saint Bede Studio

Red Gothic Revival vestments

The Saint Bede Studio

A good Catholic maxim

Hilaire Belloc with GB Shaw (left) and GK Chesterton.

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, 
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least, I’ve always found it so;
Benedicamus Domino.
Hilaire Belloc (1870 - 1953).

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Priestly Ordinations 2022

A notice to readers of this blog who may be considering approaching the Studio for Ordination vestments in 2022.  Please contact us without delay to commence discussions.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Suscipe Sancta Trinitas

One of the prayers which didn't survive the Missale Romanum final cut in 1970 was this one:
Accept, holy Trinity, this offering which we make to you in remembrance of the passion, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honour of blessed Mary ever Virgin, of blessed John the Baptist, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, of those whose relics rest here, and of all the Saints. To them may it bring honour, and to us salvation; and may they, whose memory we keep on earth, be pleased to intercede for us in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
This beautiful prayer, intended to be recited quietly after the washing of the hands during the Preparation of Gifts or Offertory, is a summary of the things a Catholic should keep in mind when praying the Mass. It reminds us firstly that all our worship is offered to the One God, who is a Trinity of Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Secondly, in reflecting the Anamnesis after the consecration, the prayer insists on the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery that is re-presented for us in sacramental form: His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. Finally, it asserts that a secondary end of the Mass is the honour of the Saints (that is, the victory of Christ in His members is being praised), and accordingly it begs their intercession for us on Earth.

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

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

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

The Latin:
Suscipe, sancta Trinitas, hanc oblationem, quam tibi offerimus ob memoriam passionis, resurrectionis, et ascensionis Jesu Christi Domini nostri: et in honorem beatae Mariae semper Virginis et beati Joannis Baptistae, et sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et istorum, et omnium Sanctorum: ut illis proficiat ad honorem, nobis autem ad salutem: et illi pro nobis intercedere dignentur in caelis, quorum memoriam agimus in terris. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. 

Monday, 31 May 2021

To the Most Holy Trinity

It is truly fitting and just, right and profitable for our salvation, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Lord, holy Father, almighty, eternal God. With your only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, you are one God, one Lord, not in the singleness of one Person, but in a Trinity of one substance. For, whatever we believe through your revelation about your glory, the same also we believe about your Son and about the Holy Spirit, without distinction or difference. So that in acknowledging the true and eternal Godhead, we adore each individual person and, at the same time, their one substance and their equal majesty: which the Angels, the Archangels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim all praise, never ceasing to cry out with one voice:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of mighty hosts! The heavens and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Bless'd is he who comes in the Lord's name. Hosanna in the highest.

This is the translation of the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity prepared by the Saint Bede Studio for the Order of Mass published by Ignatius Press.

The translation and illustration may not be reproduced without prior approval.

Saturday, 29 May 2021


Saint Martin vestments
In this Pentecost Octave, we are pleased to present a set of red vestments made for a priest customer in Connecticut USA.

These very ample vestments are in that style we call Saint Martin.  The vestments are made from a deeper red dupion silk and lined in a subtle shade of green taffeta.  The simple ornament is formed from one of the Studio's unique braids, being in the form of knotwork and called Saxony.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : This page.  

Saint Martin vestments

The Saint Bede Studio

Red vestments

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

A Prayer

We humbly beseech you, O Lord :

that of your unbounded mercy 

you would grant to the holy Roman Church a Pontiff,

who by his tender care towards us may ever find favour in your sight, and,

studying to preserve your people in safety, 

may ever be honoured by us to the glory of your Name : 

Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns 

with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, throughout all ages. Amen.

Prayer for the Election of a Pope 

from the Missal "Divine Worship" in accordance with the Roman Rite.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Concerning Reform in the Roman Rite

One of the many casualties within the Church over the last eight years has been the care of the Sacred Liturgy. This lack of care has been detailed often and in many places; but reiterating disedifying instances is not the purpose of this post.  Perhaps the key word is dis-edification : to injure piety or morals; to shock higher sensibilities or religious feelings.

When ambiguous or false teaching, bad example, insensitivity to religious sentiment and routine derision of those holding different (and Catholic) views comes from the See of Peter itself, it is not to be wondered at that there will be Reaction.

Not surprisingly, an acute understanding and perspective of such situations was given in July 2007 by Pope Benedict when he wrote to the Bishops of the World about his Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum :

Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows. (1)

What was described by Pope Benedict in 2007 has subsequently occurred again: the abdication of that care required of the Holy See for the Sacred Liturgy. Furthermore, the ecclesiastical culture of the present is tainted with a desire to use the Liturgy for particular ideological ends. In the vacuum of wholesome Liturgical teaching, those movements which are more Conservative and those which are more Progressive are becoming increasingly dominated by imprudent radicals who do not accept reasonable limits in the pursuit of having their views prevail. It should be clear that radicalism is not for the Greater Good of Holy Mother Church, although it may be disguised as such. What is "old" is not necessarily good and helpful, whilst what is "new" is not necessarily bad and unhelpful ... and vice versa.

Perhaps it is time again to study carefully the philosophy which underpins Pope Benedict's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. We can but touch upon it in this discussion. He refers again and again to the two forms or usages of the Roman Rite and expresses a desire that one may enrich the other. Some have interpreted this as being a one-way street : the New Mass must be reformed to conform more closely to the earlier liturgical Traditions. It could equally be argued that Pope Benedict wished to convince adherents of both distinct usages that there is no perfect form of the Roman Rite and that enrichment of both forms was desirable. 

Such an aspiration seems like a fantasy in the realities of the Church's present state. The spirit of moderation, teaching through charity and mutual respect - keynotes of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict - have been thrown aside. New Prophets have arisen whose hallmark is self-righteousness and didacticism rather than moderation. They are found amongst the "Progressives" and they are found amongst the "Traditionalists", even if defining those two terms is no simple matter. 

Need what has been described in former years as "the reform of the Reform" be a dead issue? Officially, it seems to be; but in parishes all over the world, "enrichment" continues to take place based on Tradition and not least so, through the Church's musical traditions. Would there be an agreement amongst Catholics of good will that it is desirable that the Church's Liturgy, as expressed in its Ordinary Form, needs to be slowly reformed in the light of Tradition? Some years ago, it was widely thought that such an agreement existed. Now, it is less clear.

In recent years, a new direction in the movement of Catholic liturgical Tradition has been taken. At its most extreme, it demands that 20th century revisions of the Extraordinary Form be rejected as inconsonant with Tradition and tainted with modernism. With such an approach, however, is there a danger that a particular Rite is venerated as an end in itself, rather than a means to end, namely a pure act of the worship of Almighty God?

Will the unhappy by-product of this new direction within the Traditional Mass movement be that, in the pursuit of "purified" Liturgical forms, common ground will be lost with the majority of Catholics who have little concept of or interest in Liturgical Tradition and common ground with those Catholics who do?

For the present, the reform of the Ordinary books of the Roman Rite seems more in the realm of notions, ideals and articles such as this one, rather than a particular program or movement. Or is it? Something may be waiting in the wings ...

To be continued. 


(1) Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter "motu proprio data" Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, given at Saint Peter's 7th July 2007.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Festal dalmatic

Last year, the Saint Bede Studio completed a set of dalmatics to match a chasuble set prepared for a Catholic parish in the Diocese of Columbus (Ohio USA). 

These dalmatics, in the Gothic Revival style, were made from an English brocade, lined in pale green taffeta and ornamented with one of the Studio's unique braids.

Please click on the image for an enlarged view.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Saint Anselm vestments

Saint Anselm
In this post, we are pleased to show one of our " economy " vestments made recently for a valued customer in the United States.  This style is called Saint Anselm.  

The chasuble is made from moirĂ© taffeta and is unlined, but well-faced around the neckline to make it sit well.  The ornament, in the manner of a column, front and back, is formed from one of the Studio's unique braids Saint Edmund, based on the work of AWN Pugin.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : This page. 

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Mutual Enrichment?

Remember some years ago, we used frequently to hear in print-based and online liturgical discussion about mutual enrichment between the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite?  Pope Benedict advocated this in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.  Perhaps you have noticed that this has not been discussed so much for a few years.  One might go so far that there is now hostility to the concept.  Such a Reaction seems unnecessary and unhelpful.  We will try to explore this phenomenon in subsequent posts on this blog of the Saint Bede Studio.

Let us begin with this re-post of an article discussing mutually enriching the aesthetics of the two Forms; for, although the external appearances are of a lesser degree of importance than the prayers and rituals of the Mass, these external forms do, nevertheless, make a strong impression upon those who look at them, namely the congregation.

For the purposes of this discussion, let us consider the scenario where both Forms of the Roman Rite are offered in the same Church or Parish, using the same sanctuary or altar and by the same priest and community.

The Benedictine Abbey of Le Barroux: 
Contemporary vestments intended 
for the Extraordinary Form.
Whilst it is true that there are in use worldwide tasteful vestments and tasteless vestments, there is no stipulation that a particular style of vestments is appropriate to one Form of the Roman Rite more than another.  Readers of liturgical blogs might be excused for thinking this is not the case: they might be forgiven for thinking that the only appropriate style of vestments for the Extraordinary Form is the Baroque chasuble (sometimes mistakenly referred to as the "Roman" chasuble, or, more derisively, the fiddleback).  They might be forgiven this, because every day we see photographs appear on numerous Blogs of celebrations of the Extraordinary Form with Baroque vestments.  Just as frequently, we see Extraordinary Form Masses being celebrated with brand new Baroque vestmentsWell, the equation of Baroque vestments with Catholic Tradition simply is a non-sequitur

When the approach is taken that Baroque vestments must be used for the Extraordinary Form, we risk moving away from Tradition into the Re-Creation of bygone eras.  Tradition isn't about Reaction or Re-Creation; that is a very shallow interpretation of Tradition and Continuity.  Read more about that here.

In short, one obvious sort of mutual enrichment of the two Forms of the Roman Rite is when people observe that the same styles of vestments are appropriate for both and there is no required disjunct between the two.

Another is the manner in which altars are set up.  Leaving aside the question of the Orientation of the Extraordinary Form, an altar may be set up for Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form simply with two candlesticks and a Crucifix, resting on the mensa of the altar.  Tragically, some have now implemented the practice that, for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form, a timber shelf is placed on an altar, sometimes with a faux-tabernacle built into it, in order to make the altar seem more like "a Traditional High altar".  This frightful practice is not only nonsense, it is also unliturgical.  Is it not disrespectful of the dignity of a consecrated altar to place portable shelves on it?

Processional Cross as the altar Cross.
Vest the altar in worthy antependia (altar frontals) and with cloths of white linen.  If you find altar cloths (the cloths that cover the mensa of the altar) in your church which are made in the liturgical colours (another frightful practice) instead of pure white, dispose of these with a just penalty.

You don't have to place six candlesticks on your altar for the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form.  It became fashionable to do this, adopting what people referred to as the Benedictine Arrangement.  Two good-sized, worthy candlesticks will do, particularly if the altar is a small one.  If you do use a set of six candlesticks, make sure they are a matching set and proportionate to the altar.

Here is another suggestion: if you have a free-standing altar, locate the Processional Cross in the very centre of the altar (at the front of the altar for the Ordinary Form and at the back of the altar for the Extraordinary Form).  Anciently, the Processional Cross was used this way before there was ever a thought of placing a Cross on the altar.  A processional Cross so located can serve for both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms.

Secondly, then, ornament the altar for both Forms of the Roman Rite in much the same manner, even if the Orientation of the celebration is different.

Priestly crossing of the stole.
Thirdly, for priest readers: start crossing your stole when you vest for Mass in the Ordinary Form.  It might be immediately objected that this is forbidden by the GIRM (a debatable point),  but if you crossed your stole, would anyone mind that much?  If they do, they don't have enough to do with their time. It is an ancient practice to cross the stole and it reinforces the distinction between the threefold Orders of deacon, priest and bishop.  Give it a try.