Tuesday 31 January 2023

In Memory Benedict XVI : 22

Concluding our posts in this series in tribute to our late beloved Benedict XVI, of happy memory and on the 30th day following his death, I wish to write about my one and only encounter with Pope Benedict, which took place in Sydney Australia in July of 2008.

In March of that year, the Saint Bede Studio was contacted by the Archdiocese of Sydney with a request to submit designs for sets of vestments for the Papal Mass in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, which was to be held on Saturday, 19th July, as part of World Youth Day.  A chasuble and stole, Pontifical dalmatic and mitre were to be prepared for the Pope’s use, in addition to three dalmatics for the deacons assisting the Pope at the Mass.

Design for the Papal Vestments
Designs were prepared for vestments decorated in three different styles: the Gothic Revival; Carolingian; and according to the traditions of Rome. These designs were then submitted by the Archdiocese of Sydney to then Prefect of Pontifical Ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, who selected the design for vestments ornamented in the Roman style.  The adjacent image depicts the design chosen by the authorities in Sydney and Rome.  At the time they were drawn up, Pope Benedict was still using the ferula of S. John Paul II and the form of primitive pallium imposed on him at the beginning of his Pontificate in 2005.  He did not use either during his trip to Sydney.

In preparing the design, certain considerations were deemed important. First, that the vestments be beautiful and dignified, as is fitting for vestments used by the Pope. Second, that the vestments be convenient for the use. Lastly, that the vestments be visually related to Roman traditions for ornamenting sacred vestments.

Papal vestments
S' Martin.
The design for the chasuble was inspired by a 16th century Saragossan painting of Saint Martin of Tours. But the semi-conical shape of that chasuble was changed to accord more with the shape and dimensions set down in the same century by Saint Charles Borromeo; this would be more convenient for the use of Pope Benedict.

The fabric for these vestments was a magnificent silk damask silver and gold in colour, which was figured with embroidery in the Italianate style of 18th century. The front of the chasuble is decorated with the “tau”: an ornament in continual use in Rome for almost 1000 years. The ornament of the chasuble, Pontifical dalmatic and dalmatics of the three deacons was in a straw-coloured silk damask, trimmed with a 2cm wide quatrefoil braid of red and gold, especially designed by the Saint Bede Studio. All the vestments were lined in crimson-red silk and bear the Papal coat of arms.  An adjustment to the design occurred by way of enrichment.  The tau at the front and column at the back had embroidered medallions added to them, to give the chasuble a more three-dimensional effect.

Papal vestments
Mitre of S' Thomas.
The mitre for Pope Benedict's use was made from cloth gold upon which was embroidered mediaeval scrollwork in gold, silver and crimson thread. These embroideries were derived from the historic mitre of Saint Thomas Becket (12th century) kept at the Sens Cathedral. The lappets of this mitre are also embroidered with scrollwork and bear the Papal coat of arms. The embroidery of the mitre was carried out in Australia.

Below are images of all the vestments taken in the course of their manufacture.

Papal vestments
Constructing the mitre.

Papal Vestments
The completed mitre.

Papal vestments
Completed mitre shewing lappets.

Papal vestments
Detail of the mitre lappet
depicting the coat of arms of
Benedict XVI.

The Saint Bede Studio
The Papal stole.

Papal vestments
The Papal tunicle.

Papal vestments
Sewing the Papal chasuble.

Papal vestments
The completed Papal chasuble.

Papal vestments
Dalmatics for the deacons-assistant.

It was a tremendous and unexpected privilege to make these vestments for the use of Pope Benedict.  It was a project with its ups and downs but, protected by the Divine Hand, it was possible to bring it to a happy conclusion. There were also human agents whose generous assistance enabled this project to be completed in time for the Papal visit.

Ut in omnibus Deus glorificetur!

A concluding post will describe my experiences at Saint Mary's Cathedral Sydney during the Papal visit.

Sunday 29 January 2023

In Memory Benedict XVI : 21

In Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, on Saturday 19th July 2008, Pope Benedict celebrated Pontifical Mass with the Australian Bishops for seminarians and religious novices.  This was part of the Pope's visit to Australia on the occasion of World Youth Day.

The Saint Bede Studio is pleased to reproduce a number of photographs take by L'Osservatore Romano, most of which have not been published anywhere else.  Please note that these photographs are under the copyright of L'Osservatore Romano and not to be reproduced.

The vestments and mitre worn by Pope Benedict for this Papal Mass, together with the dalmatics of the deacons-assistant were designed and made by the Saint Bede Studio, by the commission of the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Holy See.

All of these photographs were taken at the conclusion of the Mass, as the Pope and his ministers left the sanctuary. Pope Benedict is carrying the staff or ferula of Pope Pius IX.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Thursday 26 January 2023

In Memory Benedict XVI : 20

In this post, the Saint Bede Studio is pleased to reproduce a number of photographs taken by L'Osservatore Romano, most of which have not been published anywhere else.  For this post, we are pleased to include the homily given by Pope Benedict during the Papal Mass with Bishops, Seminarians and Novices in Saint Mary's Cathedral, Sydney Saturday, 19th July 2008.

The vestments and mitre worn by Pope Benedict for this Papal Mass, together with the dalmatics of the deacons-assistant were designed and made by the Saint Bede Studio, by the commission of the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Holy See.

In a following post, we will recount the story of how the Studio came to make these Papal vestments.

The homily can be found at the website of the Holy See.  Illustrating images are under the copyright of L'Osservatore Romano and may not be reproduced or re-posted from this website.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

The Saint Bede Studio
Pope Benedict aspersing the new altar of Saint Mary's Cathedral
during the Rite of Consecration.

Image : L'Osservatore Romano.

In this noble cathedral I rejoice to greet my brother Bishops and priests, and the deacons, religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Sydney. In a very special way, my greeting goes to the seminarians and young religious who are present among us. Like the young Israelites in today’s first reading, they are a sign of hope and renewal for God’s people; and, like those young Israelites, they will have the task of building up the Lord’s house in the coming generation. As we admire this magnificent edifice, how can we not think of all those ranks of priests, religious and faithful laity who, each in his or her own way, contributed to the building up of the Church in Australia? Our thoughts turn in particular to those settler families to whom Father Jeremiah O’Flynn entrusted the Blessed Sacrament at his departure, a “small flock” which cherished and preserved that precious treasure, passing it on to the succeeding generations who raised this great tabernacle to the glory of God. Let us rejoice in their fidelity and perseverance, and dedicate ourselves to carrying on their labours for the spread of the Gospel, the conversion of hearts and the growth of the Church in holiness, unity and charity!

We are about to celebrate the dedication of the new altar of this venerable cathedral. As its sculpted frontal powerfully reminds us, every altar is a symbol of Jesus Christ, present in the midst of his Church as priest, altar and victim (cf. Preface of Easter V). Crucified, buried and raised from the dead, given life in the Spirit and seated at the right hand of the Father, Christ has become our great high priest, eternally making intercession for us. In the Church’s liturgy, and above all in the sacrifice of the Mass consummated on the altars of the world, he invites us, the members of his mystical Body, to share in his self-oblation. He calls us, as the priestly people of the new and eternal covenant, to offer, in union with him, our own daily sacrifices for the salvation of the world.

The Saint Bede Studio
Pope Benedict anointing the new altar of Saint
Mary's Cathedral
during the Rite of Consecration.
He is shewn wearing the Episcopal dalmatic.
Image : L'Osservatore Romano.

In today’s liturgy the Church reminds us that, like this altar, we too have been consecrated, set “apart” for the service of God and the building up of his Kingdom. All too often, however, we find ourselves immersed in a world that would set God “aside”. In the name of human freedom and autonomy, God’s name is passed over in silence, religion is reduced to private devotion, and faith is shunned in the public square. At times this mentality, so completely at odds with the core of the Gospel, can even cloud our own understanding of the Church and her mission. We too can be tempted to make the life of faith a matter of mere sentiment, thus blunting its power to inspire a consistent vision of the world and a rigorous dialogue with the many other visions competing for the minds and hearts of our contemporaries.

Yet history, including the history of our own time, shows that the question of God will never be silenced, and that indifference to the religious dimension of human existence ultimately diminishes and betrays man himself. Is that not the message which is proclaimed by the magnificent architecture of this cathedral? Is that not the mystery of faith which will be proclaimed from this altar at every celebration of the Eucharist? Faith teaches us that in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, we come to understand the grandeur of our own humanity, the mystery of our life on this earth, and the sublime destiny which awaits us in heaven (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 24). Faith teaches us that we are God’s creatures, made in his image and likeness, endowed with an inviolable dignity, and called to eternal life. Wherever man is diminished, the world around us is also diminished; it loses its ultimate meaning and strays from its goal. What emerges is a culture, not of life, but of death. How could this be considered “progress”? It is a backward step, a form of regression which ultimately dries up the very sources of life for individuals and all of society.

The Saint Bede Studio
Pope Benedict anointing the new altar of Saint
Mary's Cathedral
during the Rite of Consecration.
He is shewn wearing the Episcopal dalmatic, and over this, a gremial.
Image : L'Osservatore Romano.

We know that in the end – as Saint Ignatius of Loyola saw so clearly – the only real “standard” against which all human reality can be measured is the Cross and its message of an unmerited love which triumphs over evil, sin and death, creating new life and unfading joy. The Cross reveals that we find ourselves only by giving our lives away, receiving God’s love as an unmerited gift and working to draw all men and women into the beauty of that love and the light of the truth which alone brings salvation to the world.

It is in this truth – this mystery of faith – that we have been “consecrated” (cf. Jn 17:17-19), and it is in this truth that we are called to grow, with the help of God’s grace, in daily fidelity to his word, within the life-giving communion of the Church. Yet how difficult is this path of consecration! It demands continual “conversion”, a sacrificial death to self which is the condition for belonging fully to God, a change of mind and heart which brings true freedom and a new breadth of vision. Today’s liturgy offers an eloquent symbol of that progressive spiritual transformation to which each of us is called. From the sprinkling of water, the proclamation of God’s word and the invocation of all the saints, to the prayer of consecration, the anointing and washing of the altar, its being clothed in white and apparelled in light – all these rites invite us to re-live our own consecration in Baptism. They invite us to reject sin and its false allure, and to drink ever more deeply from the life-giving springs of God’s grace.

Dear friends, may this celebration, in the presence of the Successor of Peter, be a moment of rededication and renewal for the whole Church in Australia! Here I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country. Indeed, I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured, and I assure them that, as their Pastor, I too share in their suffering. These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. They have caused great pain and have damaged the Church’s witness. I ask all of you to support and assist your Bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil. Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice. It is an urgent priority to promote a safer and more wholesome environment, especially for young people. In these days marked by the celebration of World Youth Day, we are reminded of how precious a treasure has been entrusted to us in our young people, and how great a part of the Church’s mission in this country has been dedicated to their education and care. As the Church in Australia continues, in the spirit of the Gospel, to address effectively this serious pastoral challenge, I join you in praying that this time of purification will bring about healing, reconciliation and ever greater fidelity to the moral demands of the Gospel.

The Saint Bede Studio
At the Offertory during the Mass in
Saint Mary's Cathedral.

Image : L'Osservatore Romano.

I wish now to turn to the seminarians and young religious in our midst, with a special word of affection and encouragement. Dear friends: with great generosity you have set out on a particular path of consecration, grounded in your Baptism and undertaken in response to the Lord’s personal call. You have committed yourselves, in different ways, to accepting Christ’s invitation to follow him, to leave all behind, and to devote your lives to the pursuit of holiness and the service of his people.

In today’s Gospel, the Lord calls us to “believe in the light” (Jn 12:36). These words have a special meaning for you, dear young seminarians and religious. They are a summons to trust in the truth of God’s word and to hope firmly in his promises. They invite us to see, with the eyes of faith, the infallible working of his grace all around us, even in those dark times when all our efforts seem to be in vain. Let this altar, with its powerful image of Christ the Suffering Servant, be a constant inspiration to you. Certainly there are times when every faithful disciple will feel the heat and the burden of the day (cf. Mt 20:12), and the struggle of bearing prophetic witness before a world which can appear deaf to the demands of God’s word. Do not be afraid! Believe in the light! Take to heart the truth which we have heard in today’s second reading: “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and for ever” (Heb 13:8). The light of Easter continues to dispel the darkness!

The Saint Bede Studio
Pope Benedict distributing the Sacrament.
Image : L'Osservatore Romano.

The Lord also calls us to walk in the light (cf. Jn 12:35). Each of you has embarked on the greatest and the most glorious of all struggles, to be consecrated in truth, to grow in virtue, to achieve harmony between your thoughts and ideals, and your words and actions. Enter sincerely and deeply into the discipline and spirit of your programmes of formation. Walk in Christ’s light daily through fidelity to personal and liturgical prayer, nourished by meditation on the inspired word of God. The Fathers of the Church loved to see the Scriptures as a spiritual Eden, a garden where we can walk freely with God, admiring the beauty and harmony of his saving plan as it bears fruit in our own lives, in the life of the Church and in all of history. Let prayer, then, and meditation on God’s word, be the lamp which illumines, purifies and guides your steps along the path which the Lord has marked out for you. Make the daily celebration of the Eucharist the centre of your life. At each Mass, when the Lord’s Body and Blood are lifted up at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, lift up your own hearts and lives, through Christ, with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, as a loving sacrifice to God our Father.

In this way, dear young seminarians and religious, you yourselves will become living altars, where Christ’s sacrificial love is made present as an inspiration and a source of spiritual nourishment to everyone you meet. By embracing the Lord’s call to follow him in chastity, poverty and obedience, you have begun a journey of radical discipleship which will make you “signs of contradiction” (cf. Lk2:34) to many of your contemporaries. Model your lives daily on the Lord’s own loving self-oblation in obedience to the will of the Father. You will then discover the freedom and joy which can draw others to the Love which lies beyond all other loves as their source and their ultimate fulfilment. Never forget that celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom means embracing a life completely devoted to love, a love that enables you to commit yourselves fully to God’s service and to be totally present to your brothers and sisters, especially those in need. The greatest treasures that you share with other young people – your idealism, your generosity, your time and energy – these are the very sacrifices which you are placing upon the Lord’s altar. May you always cherish this beautiful charism which God has given you for his glory and the building up of the Church!

Dear friends, let me conclude these reflections by drawing your attention to the great stained glass window in the chancel of this cathedral.  There, Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, is represented enthroned in majesty beside her divine Son. The artist has represented Mary, as the new Eve, offering an apple to Christ, the new Adam. This gesture symbolises her reversal of our first parents’ disobedience, the rich fruit which God’s grace bore in her own life, and the first fruits of that redeemed and glorified humanity which she has preceded into the glory of heaven. Let us ask Mary, Help of Christians, to sustain the Church in Australia in fidelity to that grace by which the Crucified Lord even now “draws to himself” all creation and every human heart (cf. Jn 12:32). May the power of his Holy Spirit consecrate the faithful of this land in truth, and bring forth abundant fruits of holiness and justice for the redemption of the world. May it guide all humanity into the fullness of life around that Altar, where, in the glory of the heavenly liturgy, we are called to sing God’s praises for ever. Amen.


Wednesday 25 January 2023

In memory Benedict XVI : 19

In Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, on Saturday 19th July 2008, Pope Benedict celebrated Pontifical Mass with the Australian Bishops for seminarians and religious novices.  This was part of the Pope's three-day visit to Australia on the occasion of World Youth Day.

In this and following posts, the Studio is pleased to reproduce a number of photographs take by L'Osservatore Romano, most of which have not been published anywhere else.  Please note that these photographs are under the copyright of L'Osservatore Romano and not to be reproduced.

The vestments and mitre worn by Pope Benedict for this Papal Mass, together with the dalmatics of the deacons-assistant were designed and made by the Saint Bede Studio, by the commission of the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Holy See.

The story of how the Saint Bede Studio came to receive and carry out this commission will be described in a further post.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict leaves the Cathedral Sacristy
flanked by the deacons-assistant
Revd Messrs Higgins (left) and Benton (right).

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict seated in the cathedra of 
Saint Mary's Cathedral
listening to an Address of Welcome by a Religious sister.

The Saint Bede Studio
Pope Benedict is greeted by a Religious Sister
after an Address of Welcome.

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict is greeted by a Religious Sister
after an Address of Welcome.

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict blessing incense before the
chanting of the Holy Gospel.

Pope Pius IX
Pope Benedict XVI listening to the chanting of the Holy Gospel.
He holds the Papal Ferula or staff of Pope Pius IX.

The Holy Gospel chanted from the pulpit of the Cathedral
by the Revd Mr James McCarthy.

Further posts about this special occasion to follow.


Monday 23 January 2023

The Papal Crown or Triple Tiara

On the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter (22nd February) and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (29th June) the famous statue of Saint Peter in the Vatican Basilica is adorned with specially-made vestments: amice, albe, cincture, stole and cope.  On Saint Peter's head is placed the Triregno, the Triple Tiara, the ceremonial headdress of the Roman Pontiff. Imagine the reaction if it were decreed that the statue may no longer wear the triple tiara, but had to wear a mitre?  That would be an example of ideology and political correctness triumphing over Tradition.

In our age, for a Pope to appear regularly wearing the triple tiara, would probably not be a symbol that the Church, still less the world, would warm to.  Even so, the complete abandonment of this tradition seems a pity. It would be quite feasible and acceptable for the Pope to be crowned in the Sistine Chapel before the College of Cardinals and Papal Court; he need never use the triple tiara again. There is no requirement that the Coronation of a Pope be a public event, covered greedily by the media. It could all be done privately and without ostentation. But the tradition of a Pope being crowned would remain. Perhaps one day it might happen that way.

In this post we illustrate those triple tiaras which still are in existence. 

Triple tiara of Pope Pius VII from the year 1800
It was made from papier mache but
encrusted with precious stones and pearls.
Pope Benedict XV had these stripped
from the tiara as a donation to the care
of wounded in World War One.
Twenty-four are known to exist and of this number I have been able to find photographs of sixteen. There were, of course, many more mediaeval tiaras, but during the sack of Rome in 1527, Pope Clement VII had all the papal tiaras and other regalia stripped of jewels, broken up, and melted down for the gold to prevent their capture by the forces of Emperor Charles V. Then in the late 18th century, Revolutionary France set out to eliminate the Papal government and Bonaparte began waging war against the Papal States. The Pope lost temporal sovereignty, and lacking sufficient funds, payed the assessed war debt from its fortune in papal tiaras, jewelry, and works of art. In 1798, Bonaparte's forces entered Rome itself, capturing and imprisoning the pope, and plundering the churches of any remaining treasure. 

It is thought that nearly thirty papal tiaras have existed since 1800, but several have apparently never been on public view, so little is known about them.  Only one seems to have escaped the greed of Bonaparte:  it is the tiara which is placed on the head of Saint Peter's statue each year (shewn below). 

Triple Tiara used on the Statue of Saint Peter (16th or 18th century).

Triple Tiara presented to Pope Pius VII
by Bonaparte in 1805.

Tiara of gold made in 1835 for Pope Gregory XVI.

Triple tiara presented to Pope Pius IX in 1854 by
Queen Isabella II of Spain.
This tiara was used when Pope Pius defined the doctrine
of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Another tiara of Pope Pius IX.
This tiara is now displayed in
the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Indiana USA.

Presented to Pope Pius IX in 1877
by the Vatican's Palatine Guard.

Most glorious of them all: the Triple Tiara in the
Gothic Revival style
presented to Pope Pius IX in 1871
by the Ladies of the Belgian Court.

Another splendid tiara in the neo-Gothic style.
Presented to  Pope Leo XIII by the Catholics of Paris in 1887.

Triple Tiara presented to Pope Leo XIII in 1903
by the Catholics of Bologna.

Triple Tiara presented to Pope Pius XI in 1922
by the Faithful of the Archdiocese of Milan.

Triple Tiara presented to Pope S. John XXIII in 1959
by the Faithful of the Bergamo district of Italy.

Triple Tiara said to have belonged to Pope S. John XXIII
but now in a private collection.

The distinctive Triple Tiara of Pope S. Paul VI
made by artisans of the Archdiocese of Milan
to the Pope's own design.  Its bullet-like
shape was the usual for the tiara
during the mediaeval period.
It is now on permanent display
in Washington DC.

Triple Tiara presented to Pope John Paul II by the
People of Hungary in 1981, but never used by him.

Triple Tiara presented to Pope Benedict XVI by a group
of European Catholics in 2011, but never used by him.


Saturday 21 January 2023

In memory Benedict XVI : 18

Pope Benedict XVI vestments
For a brief period, the Master of Papal Ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, introduced into the Papal suite chasubles in the Borromeon form (often written about on this Blog).  

This post features a remarkable chasuble which was used on Pentecost Sunday 2008, made from a reproduction of a Renaissance damask.  
Beautiful as it was, the chasuble did not sit well on the Pope's small stature and was not used again.  It also ill-suited the pseudo-primitive form of pallium which was used in the first three years of Pope's Benedict reign.

Matching dalmatics are also shewn.

Pope Benedict XVI vestments

Pope Benedict XVI vestments

Pope Benedict XVI vestments

Friday 20 January 2023

In Memory Benedict XVI : 17

Benedict XVI vestments
Advent 2011.
We continue these posts in the Saint Bede Studio's Retrospective of some of the vestments worn during the Pontificate of our late and beloved Pope Benedict.

The copes shewn in this post were used for Solemn celebrations of Vespers during Advent and Lent. These two purple copes are very different from each other but both made specifically for Pope Benedict.

The first cope, with a mitre evidently made to match it, although the fabric is not very ornate, is nevertheless highly-ornamented with gold-work, very tastefully arranged and proportionate.  Indeed, the ornament is most splendid and fitting for a Pope.

The second cope (see below) was made from a most splendid English silk damask of deep purple and gold.  As can be seen, the design woven into the damask is on a very large scale.  Unfortunately, the orphrey, formed from two parallel lines of gold braid, is disproportionately wide.

Benedict XVI vestments

Benedict XVI vestments
Advent 2009.

Benedict XVI vestments
Lent 2008.