Why are these vestments arranged in this order and numbered as they are? What service are they being used for? Please give your answer in the combox, along with any details you think pertinent to it. As always, to keep it more interesting, please leave your answer before reading the other comments. The answer will be posted on Monday.
The Answer: The clue here was the question, “What service (singular) are they being used for?” The answer is the Byzantine Matins of Good Friday, usually anticipated to the afternoon or evening of Holy Thursday, and generally known as the Matins of the Twelve Gospels. During this service, twelve Gospels of the Passion of Christ are read. It is a common custom to read the first in white vestments, and then use progressively darker colors as the ceremony goes on, ending in black. I had never heard of doing this at the Matins of Easter, but the clue that this had to be Good Friday Matins is in the numbering. This photograph was taken in the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of London by my very dear friend, and a long time friend of the NLM, Rev. Dr. Athanasius McVay, and my thanks go to him for the use of this photograph. Congratulations to Clifford Carvalho and Mike K., who both gave the correct answer.
The Award for Best Wildly Incorrect Answer goes to Tim for “Anglican Liturgy. You can tell by the blue vestments.” Other people use blue, and I find it difficult to imagine these vestments being used in even the most adventurous of Anglican churches. The Award for the Best Humorous Answer (not a lot of competition here), goes to Pius Lucius Gracious (also a strong contender in the Strangest Pseudonym award, if we had one) for “ecclesiastical beauty pageant.” Not a brilliant answer, but Fr. McVay and I have been making a similar joke for the last 15 years. God bless all those who are now celebrating Julian Bright Week: Christ Is Risen!