Friday, 18 May 2018

Festal Dalmatic

Recently, the Saint Bede Studio completed a chasuble and dalmatic based on the style of the 16th century for a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre (New York state). In this post, we feature the dalmatic, which is made from ecclesiastical brocade and ornamented with a narrow galloon in the Roman style.

From the 16th century onward, the manner of decorating dalmatics changed from the earlier ornamental schemes. From earliest time until the present day, dalmatics have typically been decorated with two strips of ornament called clavus (plural clavi) running parallel to each other down the full length of the vestment.

From the 16th century, the clavi, which had been paired typically at a distance of approximately 30 cm (12 inches) or less, came to be separated much more widely. The apparels - being fabric ornaments which linked the two clavi together,  generally positioned below the neckline of the dalmatic - were also greatly enlarged in size; we might say disproportionately so. In subsequent centuries these ungainly apparels were abandoned and only their outlining galloons remained as the typical form of decoration of the Roman dalmatic.

This simple dalmatic has the widely-spaced clavi, with the apparel being indicated by an outlining braid.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Contrasts : 3

Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite :
A European Parish Church.

Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite :
Conventual Mass at the Abbey of Le Barroux, France.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Notorious “Gala” :
Some Personal Reflections.

Ten years ago, I had the privilege of making vestments which were used by Pope Benedict at a Solemn Mass in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, during World Youth Day 2008. Probably the most humbling moment of my life was when Pope Benedict walked past me in the sacristy wearing the vestments which I had made with my own hands. I feel certain that anyone reading that last sentence will readily understand these sentiments.

Over more than fifteen hundred years, countless others have had a similar privilege of making vestments for the Pope. Such vestments are not pageant costumes or fine clothes, they are sacred robes intended for the fitting worship of God. They are not intended to glorify the wearer but to draw all who look upon them into the Sacred Mysteries, raising hearts and minds to God. I like to believe that vestment-makers over so many centuries have had these sentiments in their hearts when sewing sacred vestments, just as I do in the 21st century.

As a maker of sacred vestments, and for the reasons outlined above, I have found the recent events of the Met Gala and the exhibition accompanying it, confronting and profoundly offensive. I will pass over without much comment - since so many others have, and more eruditely - the sacrilegious outfits worn by celebrities at the Met Gala, being parodies of sacred vestments. In this highly-sexualised age, need we doubt that the title of this exhibition at the Museum Heavenly Bodies is purposely ambiguous? Bit of a give-away isn’t it? How shameful to consider the vestments worn by popes for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy of centuries past now being part of such an exhibition, intermingled with designer costumes for female bishops and popes.

Reading this post, please consider making Reparation for this blight on the sacred beauty of Holy Mother Church and that all Churchmen involved with it will regret such folly.

Michael Sternbeck
The Saint Bede Studio.

Friday, 11 May 2018

A Monastic Solemn Mass 1945

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Importance Notice :
Commissions for 2018 and 2019

To all readers considering placing commissions for vestments with the Studio :

At present, the Studio is accepting commissions for 2019.

Over the last few months, we have had to disappoint a number of Ordinands who applied to us too late to have vestments made for mid-2018 Ordinations.

Please avoid similar disappointment for 2019 by approaching us without delay to discuss your intentions for vestments.

Enquiries :

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Maundy Thursday Tenebrae

Saint Bede Studio
Figure 1
High altar and chancel wall of
Saint Thomas Becket's church during  Tenebrae.
Image : Latin Mass Society of Australia.
We are able to share a brief video presentation of the Office of Tenebrae for Maundy Thursday, by courtesy of the Latin Mass Society of Australia.

Read more and view the video at our subsidiary blog Where Heaven and Earth Meet.

Monday, 9 April 2018

On the Feast of the Annunciation

The Studio has completed a set of vestments of the Blessed Virgin Mary for a returning customer, a young priest in the United States. This design we have named Regina Coeli.

The vestments were made from an English ecclesiastical brocade damask. They were ornamented with a damask in peacock blue and silver, outlined with a silver-coloured narrow galloon. The vestments were lined with dupion silk in a shade to match the orphrey.

Greetings to all readers on this Feast of the Annunciation.


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Puginesque dalmatic

The Saint Bede Studio has completed two dalmatics and a cope for a returning customer.  Together, the vestments now comprise a Solemn Mass set in the Gothic Revival style.

The dalmatics (one is shewn adjacent), were sewn from an ivory and straw-coloured ecclesiastical brocade and ornamented with an orphrey in green, gold and red : a unique design of the Saint Bede Studio, based on the work of AWN Pugin.  The vestments were lined in straw-gold taffeta.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries :

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Paschal Greetings 2018

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

In a world full of strife, violence, persecutions, hatred, abuse, etc. - all wrought by man - we look again to the optimistic Christian message that God has overcome Death - and all the awfulness, frailties, discord and disappointments of this earthly life - and loves each and every poor sinner.

Christ is Risen !

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

A Black Cope

The vestment described in this post was commissioned together with a number of other vestments for a Latin Mass Community in Brazil.

The cope is extremely simple, but derived from the Roman style of ornament of the 16th century. A black damask was used for these vestments, ornamented with silver braids and lined in charcoal-grey taffeta.

Please click on the image for an enlarged view.