Friday, 29 December 2017

On the Feast of Saint Thomas Becket

Figure 1.
Medallion figuring
Saint Thomas Becket.

Image : Mulholland Restoration
& Decorating.
Today is the Feast of the great English mediaeval bishop, Thomas Becket, who was martyred for his defence of the Church in 1170 within his own Cathedral of Canterbury by knights of King Henry II.

To commemorate this Feast, we wish to continue our description of restoration work on a church in Sydney (Australia) which is under the patronage of Saint Thomas.  The church of Saint Thomas of Canterbury (also known as Saint Thomas Becket's) was erected in 1887 in the Sydney suburb of Lewisham. Because of its proximity to the railway line which runs into the centre of Sydney from the North, the splendid Gothic Revival tower of the church is seen by thousands of people each day as they pass by in the city's trains.

Figure 2.
The splendid tower of Saint Thomas' seen through
the wiring and gantries of the railway.
Earlier this year, the Saint Bede Studio was approached to be a consultant on the restoration of the interior of this church.  Walking into Saint Thomas' for the first time on Easter Monday 2017, the impression was of an Old Lady of great dignity, who had escaped dramatic changes, but of greatly faded glory, cluttered by successive generations of alterations and accretions. It was a great challenge to devise a near-complete interior re-ornamentation within the constraints of available time.

The Studio's commission was to devise a colour scheme for the repainting of the church, to devise an ornamental scheme for the Chancel and its adjacent chapels and to advise on heritage restoration generally.  In this work, we received much practical support from the pastor, Father Samuel Lynch,  parish assistant Mr Stephen Smith and artisans Mulholland Restoration and Decorating of Melbourne.

Figure 3.
A photograph taken in Saint Thomas' before the
reinstatement of the pews.
This illustrates the newly-polished timber floors, the new
central aisle of tessellated pavement
and the new colour scheme for the walls of the building.

On our other blog Where Heaven and Earth Meet, we will be presenting a series of posts detailing the philosophy underpinning the Studio's work at Saint Thomas' as well as the stages of the buildings development and restoration.

For today, however, just a few photographs of the interior work, as an appetiser.


Figure 4.
Detail of the stencilwerk designed by the Studio
for the east wall of the chancel.

The photograph was taken before the completion
of the decoration.
Image : Mulholland Restoration and Decorating.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Priestly Ordinations 2017 : 4

The Saint Bede Studio

Each year, the Saint Bede Studio has the privilege of preparing sacred vestments for priestly Ordinands. Happily, this year has been no exception.

In this post, we are pleased to draw attention to the ordination of Father Joseph Fessenden of the Diocese of Nashville (Tennessee USA).  Father Fessenden was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in the Cathedral of the Incarnation on 23rd June by His Eminence Cardinal Rigali.

Father Fessenden commissioned a set of festal vestments from the Studio in the Gothic Revival style.

The vestments were made from an ecclesiastical brocade of silk and metallic threads in a shade of gold and ornamented with a braid of crimson and ivory.  The vestments were lined in burgundy taffeta.

Please pray for Father Fessenden and for all newly-ordained priests.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com

Ordination in the Nashville Cathedral.

Monday, 25 December 2017

A Blessed Christmas

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

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

Michael Sternbeck
The Saint Bede Studio.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Festal Vestments


Festal vestments
The Studio recently completed this set of Festal vestments for a returning customer.  These distinctive vestments were made from a lovely silk damask of a very muted shade - platinum - and were lined in a deep red coloured taffeta.

The ornamental scheme of the chasuble was derived from vestments common in Italy in the fifteenth century and rendered in one of the braids designed by the Studio, named Saint George.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Priestly Ordinations 2017 : 3

Father Robert Whitney
Father Whitney with altar servers following his
First Holy Mass

Image: Ron Nicholl
Each year, the Saint Bede Studio has the privilege of preparing sacred vestments for priestly Ordinands. Happily, this year has been no exception.

In this post, we are pleased to draw attention to the ordination of Father Robert Whitney of the Archdiocese of Anchorage (Alaska USA).  Father Whitney was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in the Co-Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe on 23rd June by the Most Rev'd Paul Etienne, Archbishop of Anchorage.

Father Whitney commissioned a set of Marian vestments from the Studio in the Gothic Revival style.

The vestments were made from an ecclesiastical brocade in a shade of ivory and ornamented with a braid of blue and gold, especially designed and made for the Saint Bede Studio and based on the work of AWN Pugin.  The vestments were lined in blue taffeta.

Father Whitney
Father Whitney incensing the offerings during his
First Holy Mass.

Image: Ron Nicholl

We are pleased to include here some photographs of the First Holy Mass of Father Whitney in the Cathedral of the Holy Family, Anchorage, taken by Ron Nicholl.

Please pray for Father Whitney and for all newly-ordained priests.

Father Whitney
Father Whitney with fellow priests
of the 
Archdiocese of Anchorage.
Image: Ron Nicholl

Father Whitney
Father Whitney blessing altar servers
after his First Holy Mass.
Image: Ron Nicholl


Friday, 15 December 2017

Rose Vestments 2017

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

We are pleased to feature this dalmatic made to match a chasuble for a returning customer in the United States. This is a lighter shade of rose, with more pink in evidence, but with silvery overtones.  The vestments are made from dupion silk and lined in silver taffeta. The orphrey of this chasuble is formed from a braid designed by and made exclusively for the Saint Bede Studio in colours of purple, red and silver.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Penitential Vestments in Art

Shewn adjacent is a vignette from a larger painting titled Scenes from the Life of Saint Augustine. It was painted in Bruges around 1490 by the artist who is referred to as The Master of Saint Augustine. This painting is housed now in the marvellous setting of The Cloisters, from whose website I was able to obtain this enlarged view.

Saint Augustine is shewn here being ordained a priest. What Augustine, the bishop and the lesser ministers are wearing is typical of the style of vestments found throughout the Low Countries (what we would now identify as the Netherlands and Belgium) in the 15th century. Let us examine that in detail.

All four are wearing well-gathered albs, which are decorated with rectangles of damask (called apparels) along the lower edge on the front and the back and also on the cuffs. Note also, how closely-fitting the sleeves of the albs are, and that the apparels of the ministers match the violet colour of the priest's chasuble. Apparelled albs and apparelled amices like this were worn all over Europe (including in Rome) throughout the mediaeval period.

An exceedingly slender maniple and stole is worn by Augustine (a form typical of England and Northern Europe) which are made from the same fabric as the apparels of his alb and amice.

Both the chasubles are decorated with the Y shape of orphrey. Although this form of decoration was centuries old when this work was painted, it was more commonly found in some places and less in others.   It was not as common in Germany and southern Europe.

The ornament of the Augustine's chasuble appears to be tabernacle-like work of saints, embroidered on a dark background. This contrasts beautifully with the lighter violet colour of the chasuble. In another post, shewing Mass being offered in Siena Cathedral, we find the a very similar colour scheme of chasuble and ornament. The colour is blue-ish and not too dark. Note how much more penitential and striking in character these sombre orphreys are compared with the all-too-common use of gold on purple or violet vestments (a decorative scheme which displays a real lack of imagination).

Both chasubles are semi-conical in form, or perhaps more precisely a modified version of the semi-conical shape. Were Augustine and the bishop pictured to have their arms by their sides instead of raised, the chasubles they are wearing would fall just about to their wrists. This is a more abbreviated width from earlier centuries. The curving folds from the bottom of the chasuble were produced when the shoulders of the vestments were very steeply sloped: quite unlike the poncho-like form of the modern chasuble and the sandwich-boards effect of the fiddleback chasuble.

The bishop is shewn in Pontificals. Beneath his chasuble of scarlet-red is seen an ornamented golden dalmatic. The tunic cannot be seen. He is wearing a precious mitre; the horizontal and vertical ornamental bands are worked onto a base of gold fabric and enriched with precious stones.

Lastly, a word on the colours of the vestments. The more modern concept of matching colours did not exist in the mediaeval period, when the whole scheme of the Liturgical Colours (as we know them now) was far less developed. A practical reason for this "mix and match" was the lack of available fabric in matching colours. But that does not fully account for the more familiar approach we see in paintings and illuminations of the mediaeval period, where a chasuble was made up from one fabric, but the stole, maniple and apparels were made up from another, and usually contrasting, fabric. What a varied and pleasing effect this produces!

Thanks to Brother Stephen O. Cist for helping to clarify the scene depicted in this vignette.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Saint Philip Neri vestments

Baroque vestments
Recently, the Studio completed a set of vestments for an Australian priest, resident in Victoria.

Our customer commissioned vestments in the Saint Philip Neri style. The chasuble (shewn adjacent) was made from a lovely ecclesiastical brocade in ivory and straw-gold and was ornamented in the Roman style with a silk damask outlined with narrow braids in the colours of burgundy and gold. The vestments were lined in a shade of lemon taffeta.

Please click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Festal Vestments

Gothic vestmentsRecently, the Studio completed a set of vestments for a priest celebrating the Jubilee of his ordination.  Our returning customer is from the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois.

These Jubilee vestments are made from a beautiful silk damask in the colours of ivory and straw-gold. The chasuble's orphrey is formed from a braid having a monogram of the Blessed Virgin upon it; outlining this braid is a narrow galloon.  All these braids are in colours of blue, white and gold upon a red base.

The vestments were lined in Royal Blue taffeta.

Please click on the image for an enlarged view.

E-mail : stbede62@gmail.com

Thursday, 2 November 2017

All Souls' Day 2017

Borromeon vestments
For the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, we are pleased to present this post about a set of Requiem Mass vestments, recently completed by the Studio for a young priest of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska (USA).

These vestments are made from a black ecclesiastical brocade and ornamented with narrow galloons and a brocade of black and straw colours, which depicts in its design the Crucifixion.  The Studio has made vestments similar to this previously.

Please click on the image for an enlarged view.

Our customer kindly wrote this appreciation and reflection about the vestments, which are being used for the first time today.

Thank you for all the hard work you put into searching for the fabrics and adornments.  This vestment, in its dignity and grandeur, is a testimony to his Mercy and those experiencing it presently in the purifying state of Purgatory.
  
The very existence of the Holy Souls demonstrates the insurmountable mercy of our Saviour.  That He continually gives us these opportunities to turn towards him and grow closer to him, even after death, is a testimony of His Supreme Love for humanity.

My childhood pastor always wore black for all the ferial days during the month of November, and always celebrated Masses for the dead on those particular days. He had a deep devotion to the Holy Souls and so he made a point of instilling that devotion into his parishioners.  So, wearing black vestments was the normal thing and the idea/duty of praying for the Poor Souls was just a part of our parish culture, impressed upon me from an early age. He was my pastor for 21 years of my life. So in a real sense, this vestment is a testimony to the example that one priest can make on an individual’s spiritual life.

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Priestly Ordinations 2017 : 2

Each year, the Saint Bede Studio has the privilege of preparing sacred vestments for priestly Ordinands. Happily, this year has been no exception.

In this post, we are pleased to draw attention to the ordination of Father Bradley Jantz of the Diocese of Birmingham (Alabama USA).  Father Jantz was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in Saint Paul's Cathedral, Birmingham (USA) on 24th June by the Most Rev'd Robert Baker.

Father Jantz commissioned a set of vestments from the Studio in the Gothic Revival style.

The vestments were made from an English brocade in a lovely shade of ivory and ornamented with a braid of red, blue and gold, especially designed and made for the Saint Bede Studio.  The vestments were lined in red taffeta.

Please pray for Father Jantz and for all newly-ordained priests.

The Cathedral of Saint Paul, Birmingham USA.
Image: www.architectureworks.com

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Restoration of a Landmark Sydney Church : 1

Tower and northern transept
of Saint Thomas' church, Lewisham NSW.
Earlier this year, the Saint Bede Studio was approached to be a consultant on the restoration of the interior of a famous church in Sydney NSW.

The church of Saint Thomas of Canterbury (also known as Saint Thomas Becket's) was founded in 1887 in the Sydney suburb of Lewisham. Because of its proximity to the railway line which runs into the centre of Sydney from the North, the splendid Gothic Revival tower of the church is seen by thousands of people each day as they pass by in the city's trains.

This is the first in a series of posts about the restoration of S' Thomas', to which the Saint Bede Studio has been pleased to contribute.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Father Adrian Fortescue and the 18th Century

Father Adrian Fortescue
"In the eighteenth century a desolating wave of bad taste passed over Europe.  It gave us Baroc churches, tawdry gilding, vulgarities of gaudy ornament instead of fine construction.  It passed over clothes and gave us our mean, tight modern garments.  And it passed, alas! over vestments too, and gave us skimped, flat vestments of bad colour, outlined in that most impossible material, gold braid, instead of the ample, stately forms which had lasted until then....For these curtailed shapes are not the historic ones which came down hardly modified for so many centuries. They are a quite modern example of Baroc taste...Skimped chasubles, gold braid and lace are not Roman; they are eighteenth century bad taste."

So wrote one of the most illustrious ecclesiastical scholars of the early twentieth century, the Rev'd Dr Adrian Fortescue. This is an extract from a lecture which he gave to the Altar Society of Westminster Cathedral in 1912. Dr Fortescue's name is better known for the ceremonial manual which he prepared in order to raise money for the building of his Parish church: The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, which has run into many editions, over almost one century.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Prayer for the Needs of the Church

Mosaic of Christ in Majesty, Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome.

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 prevail. Whilst, then, it accepts affliction as a proving of its faith, let it persevere, by your grace, in triumphant loyalty.

Missal of Robert of Jumieges - 11th century

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Priestly Ordinations 2017 : 1

Each year, the Saint Bede Studio has the privilege of preparing sacred vestments for priestly Ordinands. Happily, this year has been no exception.

In this post, we are pleased to draw attention to the ordination of Father Andrew Bowden of the Venerable English College.  Father Bowden was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint George Church, Enfield (UK) on 15th July by the Cardinal-Archbishop of Westminster.

Father Bowden commissioned a set of Marian vestments from the Studio in the Gothic Revival style.

The vestments were made from a muted gold damask and ornamented with a braid of blue and gold, especially designed and made for the Saint Bede Studio and based on the work of AWN Pugin.  The vestments were lined in blue taffeta.

Please pray for Father Bowden and for all newly-ordained priests.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Terrible Threats of Nature

O God, to whose nod all Nature's elements give obedience
and to whom the earth owes its firm foundation,
we humbly entreat you,
that by your calming of Nature's menace, 

a dread threat may become 
a cause for the praise of your Power.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Adapted from two votive Collects in the Roman Missal.

The Saint Bede Studio sends prayers of support to anyone reading this column who has been affected by recent natural disasters in the Americas.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Feast of the Holy Cross


As the Church celebrates the Exaltation of the Holy Cross this week,  we are pleased to present this new set of red vestments.

The vestments, shewn in the adjacent image, were prepared for a young priest in the Archdiocese of New Orleans USA, a returning customer.

This vestment, in the Studio's Borromeon style, was made from a beautiful European silk damask being a replica of a Venetian design of the 16th century. It is lined in a bronze taffeta. The vestments are ornamented in the Roman manner with a TAU at the front and column at the back in colours of burgundy and gold.


Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

1997 Decision of the Ecclesia Dei Commission : UPDATED






Above are shewn decisions of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, given in 1997 in response to dubia posed by an Australian bishop.  The name of this bishop is withheld.  They concern, of course, the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum.  The letter of the Commission makes it quite clear that permissions extended to Benedictine Communities in France (namely Fontgombault and Le Barroux) by the same Commission, may be enjoyed by other Extraordinary Form Communities.  This letter was written ten years before the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

As far as this writer is concerned, the permissions of the Ecclesia Dei Commission in this 1997 letter have not been revoked.  Note well that they are permissions and not obligations.

The permissions of the Commission, shewn in the letter, may be summarised as follows:

1. At a Low Mass, the celebrant may read an approved translation into the vernacular of the Epistle and Gospel.

2(a) At a Solemn Mass, the celebrant and ministers may join with the schola in singing a plainchant Gloria and Credo, without the requirement of reading them together beforehand.

2(b) At any sung Mass, the entire congregation may join with the Celebrant in singing the Pater noster.

3. The additional prefaces, which were included in an appendix of the 1965 Missale Romanum and some editions of the 1962 Missale Romanum (often referred to as The Gallican Prefaces) may be used at any celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal.  Furthermore, prefaces from the 1970 Missale Romanum may also be included.

In addition to these Decisions, the Commission attached to the letter its permissions regarding the form of the Conventual Mass which may be celebrated by the Traditionalist Benedictines of France.  By this was intended that the form of celebration described may be celebrated elsewhere ( a translation is given below ) :




1. If the celebration of the Divine Office precedes Mass, the Prayers at the Foot of the altar may be omitted.

2. The rites accompanying the readings from scripture may be celebrated at the sedilia.

3. The readings may be proclaimed facing the people, whether in Latin or the vernacular and the celebrant is not required to read them or the Gradual chants separately.

4. Bidding Prayers may be offered after the Oremus, immediately preceding the Offertory.

5. The "Secret" prayer may be sung aloud.

6. The celebrant may sing the entire doxology Per ipsum, whilst elevating the Host over the chalice.

7. The Pater noster may be sung by all with the celebrant.

Please click on the images for an enlarged view.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Recent Enquiries

Out of necessity, work at the Studio has been in a period of Recess.  This has had the greatest impact on our timely response to a large number of e-mail enquiries.

Each day, the Studio receives a significant number of messages about vestments and related matters. It is not possible for these to receive immediate attention.

Your Christian patience is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Saint Giles chasuble : reposted

Saint Bede StudioThe Saint Bede Studio recently completed this chasuble according to our Saint Giles design.  This simple and elegant chasuble, made from a cream coloured silk blend jacquard, is extremely lightweight and flows beautifully.

These vestments were donated to the National Shrine of Saint Jude in Chicago (USA) in thanksgiving for an important favour granted to the Saint Bede Studio through the intercession of Saint Jude Thaddeus.

The chasuble is ornamented with a braid of the Studio's design, in colours of red, burgundy and gold.  This design is directly based upon a Belgian early-20th century chasuble which appears on page 92 of Dom Roulin's well-known study Vestments and Vesture (1931). The image from Dom Roulin's book is reproduced below.

Saint Jude, Apostle of Hope, pray for us.

Please click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com




Friday, 28 July 2017

Rose Low Mass set

Recently, the Saint Bede Studio commissioned this set of Rose vestments for a Latin Mass Community in the Archdiocese of Sydney (Australia).

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

This particular set of vestments (see adjacent image), in the Studio's  Saint Giles style - is made from a quite different shade of rose. It is a colour between crimson and purple and made from dupion silk.  Unfortunately, photography fails to capture the subtle accents of this beautiful silk. To accentuate the colour of the vestment, the lining is made from a much lighter rose taffeta. The orphrey of this chasuble is formed from one of the Studio's Puginesque braids in colours of burgundy, red and ash-grey.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiriesstbede62@gmail.com


Friday, 21 July 2017

Ordinands for 2018

Commissions for the first half of 2018 are now being accepted.
  
Will you be ordained in 2018?

Please do not delay in making an enquiry.  

Places in our schedule are limited. NOW is the time to be in contact with the Studio.  

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A Night Prayer

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; 
and by thy great mercy defend us 
from all perils and dangers of this night; 
for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

This brief but lovely prayer is found in the 1559 version of The Book of Common Prayer, and had its antecedent in pre-Reformation English Catholic use, being the last prayer of the Office of Compline in the Sarum Use.

The redoubtable Father Hunwicke has an exposition of this prayer for us, which is most interesting.

Whatever the intention of the ancient author of this oration, we can now look at Cranmer's choice of the translation "lighten" in two ways :

"Shed your light upon our darkness"   or

"Lift the burden of our darkness".

In such an understanding, Darkness may refer to our sinfulness, or to our spiritual or intellectual blindness. It is certainly a prayer for those who wish to be at rights with God before sleep descends.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

For the Season "Per Annum" 2017 : 5

This is a chasuble in the Studio's Saint Martin style, being a contemporary interpretation of the mediaeval chasuble. It is a very ample vestment made from a simple silk in a darker shade of green. It is ornamented in the Roman style with a braid of the Studio's own design, but based on the work of AWN Pugin. It is fully lined in red taffeta.

Click on the adjacent image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com



Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Season "Per Annum" 2017 : 4

Green vestments
The Studio has completed this set of vestments in our Saint Giles style, being a more flowing and slightly more ample chasuble in the Gothic style.

These vestments are made from a beautiful brocade in two shades of green, one being very dark, the other an Emerald green. Their combination is very rich and distinctive. Ornamenting the vestments is the earliest of the Studio's Puginesque braids, a design of alternating quatrefoils in gold upon a red base. The lining is a brighter red.

The chasuble is shewn being worn with an apparelled amice.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com

Friday, 7 July 2017

Mediaeval Pontificals : 2


The above painting of Saint Nicholas of Myra was painted by the Florentine artist Pacino di Bonaguida, who worked at the beginning of the Fourteenth century (1302 to before 1340).

The website of the J Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles) tells us that twentieth-century scholars reconstructed Pacino da Bonaguida's career, based upon his only known signed painting: an altarpiece in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. Pacino spent his entire career in Florence, where, in addition to altarpieces, he painted miniatures and decorations for illuminated manuscripts. He is considered the inventor of miniaturism, a style distinguished by a clear organisation of the painting surface into multiple small-scale scenes.

This work, which is painted in an iconographic style, depicts Saint Nicholas as a bishop of the the early Fourteenth century. Visible in the painting are the bishop's chasuble, amice apparel, a liturgical book, gloves, ring, crosier and mitre.

The condition of the above reproduction of Pacino's painting being what it is, it is not possible to determine precisely the colour of the chasuble. Certainly its lining is black, so we are inclined to think this semi-conical chasuble is of black damask, figured with gold quatrefoils. The fabric may, however, be a very dark green. The ornament of the chasuble is quite interesting, since it is a very early example of a woven braid, or at least is depicted as such. We can tell this since at the intersection point of the TAU piece (which rests upon the chest) the designs can be seen quite clearly to be disappearing beneath the horizontal ornament. Were the entire orphrey embroidered, such an arrangement would be avoided. The woven braid itself consists of geometrical patterns, rather than religious figures, and these designs are presented in colours of red, black and gold on a neutral background.

This early example of the TAU ornament is interesting also since it is really in the shape of a Cross " t " rather than " T ". Unlike the presentation of the TAU in later centuries, this decoration has a very short horizontal band. Sitting around the neckline is an amice apparel which, although of a different design, is woven in similar colours to the chasuble orphrey.

The white Episcopal gloves being worn by Saint Nicholas appear to be embroidered with a coat of arms. In his right hand, the Saint is depicted holding a liturgical book, whether it be an Evangelarium or a Sacramentary is unable to be determined.

Upon his head, Saint Nicholas is shewn to be wearing a precious mitre in the early mediaeval style. It is of white linen or silk and is ornamented in the usual style with the circulus and titulus bands.  These are of embroidered geometric designs upon a gold background.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Orphrey Braids of the Saint Bede Studio

Each year, the Saint Bede Studio adds to its stable of orphrey braids.  Most of our braids are derived from precedents, either Gothic Revival or Mediaeval. They are never merely copies, but always have original touches to enhance the diversity of their use.

These unique braids are designed by the Studio and only used in conjunction with our vestments. They are not commercially available, nor available to any other vestment makers and are reserved under international copyright.

The braids shewn in the adjacent image are used for orphreys in both the Gothic and Roman * styles of vestments designed and made by the Studio.

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* The Studio's interpretation of the Roman style is represented by the Borromeon, Saint Martin and Saint Philip Neri chasubles.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

To What End Sacred Vestments?

Solemn Mass at the Abbey of 
Saint Madeleine, Le Barroux.
If we were to accept the notion that a priest is the "president of the christian assembly" then what he wears to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy would be merely an expression of his personality or tastes. The notion of presider is an entirely modern (and an execrable) concept. A priest, bishop or Pope celebrates the Sacred Mysteries. In the East, the term used is to serve.

Because the celebrant is least of all a "presider", what he wears should not essentially be about his own preferences and personality. A priest should ask of himself :

Is what I am wearing worthy of my ministry standing between God and man to offer the Holy Sacrifice?

Will what I am wearing draw those who look upon me during Mass into a closer appreciation of the Sacred Mysteries, in other words, will it raise their hearts and minds to God?

Or will it act as a distraction to the Faithful attending Mass?

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Mediaeval Pontificals
(re-posted)

15th century painting of S' Peter Damian.


When looking at mediaeval depictions of bishops or popes vested for Mass, we find certain things in common with the Pontifical vestments of a 21st century Catholic bishop, but some significant differences. The most striking difference is the usual lack of an Episcopal dalmatic amongst the vestments of a modern bishop. Even when a dalmatic is worn, it is usually an affair so non-descript as to be hardly noticeable.

Before Pope Paul VI entered Saint Peter's Basilica to celebrate Mass solemnly in 1965, bishops or popes had - since the earliest centuries of the Church (certainly since the Constantinian period) - worn a dalmatic underneath the chasuble. *   Paul VI was the first to break this tradition, when he appeared in a flowing chasuble, with no dalmatic beneath. As a matter of fact, until the end of his Pontificate in 1978, typically he left aside the use of the dalmatic. His successors, John Paul I, S. John Paul II and Francis all likewise have left aside the dalmatic. Benedict XVI was a happy exception to this, adopting quite early on in his Pontificate the use of the dalmatic beneath the chasuble on all solemn occasions.

The pity of this is that the dalmatic worn with the chasuble symbolised the fullness of Holy Orders enjoyed by a bishop. A bishop is incompletely vested if he lacks the dalmatic. The claim that it is too burdensome to wear a dalmatic beneath the chasuble is, to say the least, pitiful.

In this post, we look at a painting which once formed part of altarpiece from Faenza in Italy of the early 15th century, which depicts Saint Peter Damian. The artist Peruccino - who was known as the Master of Saint Peter Damian - prepared this likeness from the effigy on the sarcophagus of the saint.

The saint is depicted wearing a style of vestments commonly known in 14th and 15th century Italy; namely : a flowing linen albe which is unadorned with either apparels or embroidery; a red semi-conical chasuble whose Tau ornament is formed from embroidered cameos of the saints and upon his head a precious mitre of white silk ornamented and embroidered with goldwork and precious stones.

We also see the Episcopal dalmatic (the tunic can also just be seen). It is immediately noticeable how elaborate the dalmatic is : not a plain affair of simple silk. It is made from a rich damask of deep green ornamented with gold embroidery and outlined with gold braid. One could be forgiven for observing that the dalmatic has a richer appearance than the chasuble itself. But certainly the dalmatic enriches the appearance of the wearer and is not intended to be invisible.

Imagine how dignified a modern bishop would look if he were to wear a dalmatic of such nobility beneath his chasuble? One can but hope.

* In addition, a bishop would also wear a tunic, being the vestment of the subdeacon, but this requirement for the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite lapsed when the subdiaconate was abolished as a Major Order in 1973. 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Altar Frontal : 2

In a previous post, we introduced why altar frontals or antependia are desirable to cloth altars, based on liturgical law, sacred symbolism and aesthetics. These are compelling reasons for the use of the frontal, but so frequently two objections are offered why the altar frontal is not used :

The altar is so beautiful, why would we cover it up?

It is too difficult to be changing frontals frequently.

The answers to the first objection may be found by re-reading our first post.  But in this article we wish to begin to discuss the second objection.

A splendidly designed and embroidered altar frontal
clothing the High Altar of Westminster Cathedral (UK).
The use of the original High altar for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy
was reintroduced by the present Archbishop of Westminster,
shewn in the photograph offering Mass.

Firstly, some terminology. The words frontal and antependium presuppose that the covering is applied only to one face of the altar namely, the front of it. This is perfectly proper when considering an altar which is attached to a reredos, or very close to a wall and therefore not freestanding. An altar, however, is a three-dimensional structure and - if it is freestanding - it ought to be fully clothed, not just clothed on those sides which are generally visible. Consequently, we also find the term altar pall which describes a parament which covers all sides of the altar or, at the least, two of them, the front face and the back face.

A free-standing altar placed in a central position which can be viewed from all sides, requires coverings at the front and the back (we leave aside the question of the linen altar cloths) in order for the covering to fulfil its purpose. It is unseemly to cover the front and not the back of an altar, unless of course, one takes the view that the altar frontal is purely used for aesthetic effect.

Where possible, and for reasons of adequately expressing sacred symbolism, the altar pall or frontal ought to be changed in accordance with the colour of the Liturgical Day or Season. It is quite acceptable, however, to have a worthy form of altar pall which is changed hardly ever. It is when several frontals or palls are used and have to be changed that the second objection becomes more prominent.

At present, as in the past, very few altars are designed with any thought given to their being covered with a pall or frontal. This is a serious deficiency in the vision of designers, but it is hardly a new one. It is very important when designing altars that serious consideration is given as to how they will be clothed. If no arrangement, or a clumsy arrangement is made for clothing an altar with a pall, quite quickly this will be cited as the reason NOT to use an altar pall or frontal. "It's too much trouble".

We will pass over without comment those execrable and unbefitting creations which, being multi-sided instead of four-sided, arrogantly defy sacred Tradition and any form of altar covering.

To be continued ...

Friday, 30 June 2017

The Bidding Prayers

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council Sacrosanctum Concilium laid down the desire of the Fathers for the restoration of intercessions:

53. The “common prayer” or “prayer of the faithful” is to be restored after the gospel and homily, especially on Sundays and holidays of obligation. By this prayer - in which the people are to take part - intercession will be made for holy Church, for the civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs, for all mankind, and for the salvation of the entire world.

This paragraph made reference to Saint Paul’s admonition at 1 Tim. 2:1-2. This paragraph is found – with only slight alterations – in the General Instructions on the Roman Missal.

Such intercessions are, therefore, of Apostolic origin, and were everywhere known by the time of Saint Augustine. The Solemn Orations of the Good Friday Afternoon Liturgy were the only survival of such intercessions in the Roman Missal for centuries. In the East, however, they were preserved in the unvarying Litanies, or Ektenia that are prayed throughout the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. From the East, such intercessions made their way during the first millennium into the various Rites in England and, centuries later, were incorporated into the Services of the Church of England, long after they had ceased being a usual feature of the Roman Rite.

Anciently, the intercessions formed part of non-Eucharistic prayer service (sometimes called a Synaxis). But when such services came to be usually celebrated immediately before the Eucharistic Liturgy, the intercessions gradually fell into disuse. This was because intercessions made during the Eucharistic Liturgy often repeated those found in the Synaxis. Such was the origin of the Roman Mass being described in two parts: the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful.

What is found in almost all the ancient examples of these intercessions are common intentions, which were summarised and made explicit by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.

It was never envisaged by the Council - nor was it part of the ancient practice - that such intercessions vary on a daily basis, nor that there be any inclusion of extemporaneous prayer. It might easily be argued that the Council Fathers wished that these intercessions would become fixed in people’s consciousness, by being prayed week after week. Such is the practice with our Eastern brethren.

Upon this simple concept outlined by the Council Fathers, there have been many accretions over the last 50 years. Not uncommonly, we find intercessions anaemic in their theological content and not specifically Christian in their outlook. We commonly find the intercessions to be linked to the Propers of the Mass, and the lections of the Mass of the Day, as if “theme” were all-important. But this was never intended by the Council Fathers. Furthermore, a new and more noble translation of the Roman Missal for the English-speaking world has highlighted the often unsacral, even trite expression of these intercessions. But even the formulae found in the Roman Missal are so terse as easily to be described as bland.

Further posts in this small series will examine some forms of Intercession drawn-up immediately after the first liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Commission for Vestments in 2018

Commissions for the first half of 2018 are now being accepted.
  
Will you be ordained in 2018?

Please do not delay in making an enquiry.  

Places in our schedule are limited. Now is the time to be in contact with the Studio.  

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Saint Andrew's Abbey-Church, Bruges (Belgium)

Photograph: Dirk Vde 2007
Please note: The above copyrighted image may not be reproduced in any circumstances.
The magnificent Benedictine Abbey-Church of Saint Andrew in Bruges, Belgium is completely intact and truly glorious.

The altar rests beneath a magnificent civory or ciborium, the vault of which is covered with golden mosaic tiles. The apse walls are treated with inlaid marblework and murals painted in the Beuronese school of sacred art. Equally magnificent is the Cosmatesque floor of the sanctuary.

The altar of Saint Joseph in the Abbey-Church.
Here is seen a further example of the Beuronese school of sacred art.
The altar itself, together with its bronze Crucifix and candlesticks, is a work of art,
beautifully detailed and admirably proportionate.



The charming photograph adjacent was taken in the Abbey Church of Saint Andrew in Bruges,
Belgium around 1958.  A Benedictine monk is pictured at the beginning of a Low Mass, attended by two servers.

Re-posted from our other Blog Where Heaven and Earth Meet.

Click on the images for an enlarged view. 


Saturday, 17 June 2017

The Kiss of Peace

At a previous Synod of Bishops, Pope Benedict and other bishops posed a question about the Kiss of Peace or Pax in the celebration of the Ordinary Form of Mass according to the Roman Rite. Subsequently, the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments issued a decision of admirable Roman liturgical conservatism, rejecting a proposal that the Pax be observed at the Offertory, rather than before the reception of Holy Communion (as it has been since the time of Pope Saint Gregory the Great).

In a previous post about the revision of the Rites, we pondered if celebrants might consider that any ritual actions of the Extraordinary Form could be incorporated into their celebration of the New Mass in such a way as would not disturb the Faithful. One of these, it might be suggested, is the Pax.

The ritual actions for the Pax in the Extraordinary and Ordinary forms of the Roman Rite are quite different. The prayers - which are the same in both Old and New - are rearranged in the Ordinary form. One thing remains unchanged, however, and it is most significant. Domine Jesu Christi, qui dixisti apostolis tuis ... This prayer, which is the preface to the Pax, is not addressed to God the Father (as all the other prayers of the Mass are) (1)   but addressed directly to God the Son, who is present upon the altar before the very eyes of the celebrant.

All the more inappropriate, therefore, for the celebrant to say or sing this prayer looking around at the Congregation (we need not elaborate on various manifestations of the ars celebrandi of some priests). (2) The celebrant ought to have his eyes cast down upon the altar, looking at Him whom he is addressing. This injunction, however, will not be found in the rubrics of the Pauline Missal.

The Kissing of the Altar :
Karsh's photograph from the famous book by
Bishop Fulton Sheen : This is the Mass.
There is a regrettable ritual excision from the Pax as observed in the Pauline Missal. In Solemn Masses, according to the Extraordinary form, the celebrant recites quietly the prayer Domine Jesu Christi, qui dixisti apostolis tuis and then he kisses the corporal upon which rest the Sacred Host and the Chalice. The deacon (standing at his right), kisses the altar, but not the corporal. The celebrant then gives the Pax to the deacon. In some Mediaeval Western liturgies, the celebrant kissed not the corporal, but the Sacred Host itself, or the foot of the Chalice. These ritual gestures are of great significance and underline that the Pax is not a greeting per se, but a ritual transmission of the Peace which comes directly from our Saviour.

Would it be so objectionable if celebrants of Mass in the Ordinary Form were once again to kiss the corporal before giving the Faithful the Greeting of Peace? Would that ritual action not emphasise their words : The Peace of the Lord be with you always ? Would this be so objectionable? For some, probably. Others might not even notice. Still others might welcome the enrichment of an other-worldly ritual dimension in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Prudence in all things.

_______________________________________________
(1) With the exception of the Kyrie eleison, which is a litany.
(2) We had the misfortune to observe during the ANZAC Dawn Service at the Gallipoli Beach in Turkey on 25th April 2015, the Anglican minister "praying" the Lord's Prayer whilst looking from side to side to those gathered (whom he would have been unable to see because of the glare of lights). This is is the antithesis of Liturgical Prayer.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Vestments for Pentecost : 3

The Saint Bede Studio
As the Church celebrates the Great Feast of Pentecost, we are pleased to present posts about three new red vestments that have been completed for this Feast.

This third post is a Low Mass set, shewn in the adjacent image, prepared for a young priest in the Archdiocese of New York USA.

This vestment, in the Studio's Borromeon style, was made from a beautiful European silk damask being a replica of a Venetian design of the 16th century. It is lined in a bronze taffeta. The vestments are ornamented in the Roman manner with a TAU at the front and column at the back in colours of burgundy and gold.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Vestments for Pentecost : 2

As the Church celebrates the Great Feast of Pentecost, we are pleased to present posts about three new red vestments that have been completed for this Feast.

This second post is a Low Mass set, shewn in the adjacent image, prepared for a young priest in the Diocese of Steubenville (Ohio) 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 image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Vestments for Pentecost : 1

Saint Bede StudioAs the Church celebrates the Great Day of Pentecost, we are pleased to present posts about three new red vestments that have been completed for this Feast.

Our first post is a chasuble set, shewn in the adjacent image, prepared for a parish community in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (Texas USA), a returning customer.

This chasuble, in the Saint Bede Studio's Saint Giles design, was made from a beautiful silk damask of a distinctive shade of red and lined in a sand-grey taffeta. The vestments are ornamented with an orphrey braid of the Studio's own design (based on elements of the work of AWN Pugin) in colours of grey and burgundy upon red.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com