Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Chasubles with Changeable Appliques for Feast Days

Father Neal Nichols FSSP of St Benedict’s Church in Chesapeake, Virginia, has designed a new way of changing decorations on a chasuble for different feast days or Votive Masses.

While the idea of changeable appliques on the chasuble came to him years ago, Fr Nichols had trouble finding any company willing to help make them. For a long time he shelved the notion, but then while staying at the retreat center of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Gower, Missouri, he got a chance to meet some of the nuns designing and hand-sewing vestments to support their community. He described his idea and found a much more receptive audience.
The basic design is simple: applique patches that attach to the back of a chasuble. Each applique is sized and shaped exactly the same and precisely lined up with the set of snaps on the garment. A parish could thus invest in one white vestment set but order as many appliques as desired to be switched out for the appropriate feast day.

The appliques are hand painted and sewn by the Benedictine nuns, using beading, gold and silver threads, and vibrant colors to honor the holy figures they represent. While they run between $350 and $500 each, that is half the cost of a full chasuble. The parish’s latest edition is an elaborately decorated design of St Anne donated by the members of St Anne’s Sodality.
Now that he knows they work and there are people willing to make them, Fr Nichols wants to spread the word. For now, only the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles can accommodate the design. The nuns live without electronic communication, though, and the only way to make an inquiry is by mail. Vestment orders are currently backed up into 2018, but if more interest is shown, it’s possible their operation will expand.

“There’s been a recent movement back to the more traditional vestments,” says Fr Nichols. “People have begun to appreciate the old ways – not just in the Tridentine parishes like ours which celebrate the Latin Mass – and the current catalogues reflect this. With this less expensive option, demand could increase even more, and supply will rise to meet it.” Next up for St Benedict’s Church, says Father, is a red chasuble set for the martyr saints. Parishioners have been generous in the past, and knowing the priests are working to save money definitely encourages more participation.

The garments also belong to the community, and will stay at St Benedict’s long after the current priests have moved on. Fr Nichols also has no regrets about eventually leaving them behind, since it is the parish who supported their purchase. “I won’t be able to take them with me, but I can take the idea.” Inquiries for custom appliqued vestments may be sent to:
Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles
Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus
P.O. Box 303
Gower, MO 64454

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