Friday, June 29, 2012

Top Catholic Artist Offers Apprenticeships

Catholic artist James Gillick has begun a formal scheme of apprenticeships at his studio in England. He will take on 5 people per year and is even building an extension to his studio in Louth, Lincolnshire in order to house his students. James works in the baroque style and sells through one of the leading galleries in London at top prices. He sell as an artist of both sacred and mundane subjects.

I have known James for some years now and he has always spoken to me about how he feels that artists don't seem to be aware beyond the basic skills of drawing and painting is his understanding of his market and that he wanted to be able to help people who wished to do this. For example, when he spoke to the students at Maryvale he would always play down the image of the sensitive artistic temperament. Rather, he likened what he did to the job of a bricklayer: 'A bricky gets paid on the number of bricks he lays,' said James. 'Similarly the artist gets paid for each painting he paints. If I am going to support my family, I must be able to paint quickly and to highest standard so that I have enough to sell. Then I have to find someone who is going to buy my paintings. If I don't do that we starve or I get job doing something else. I don't have the time to get precious about it.'

How he is helping directly by offering training and advice.

He is looking for young people who want to, in his words, spend the next 50 years being an artist. They will have to pay small up-front fee to cover room, board and materials (amounting to approximately $120 per week) but once they get going they will be paid for assisting him in the preparation of his canvasses and materials, preparatory painting work and assisting him in his business including liaising with his clients and galleries and book-keeping. By the end of the year they will be able to recoup this initial outlay through what they are paid for this work. Through working with him students will learn the life skills of being artist and be in a position to set up as sole traders. James sees this as much about forming the person to lead a hard-working, disciplined (and frugal) lifestyle as well as teaching them how to creating paintings. The will be pushed hard during this year. Artistically, depending on how experienced they were when they arrived, students can expect to be at a level where they can contemplate selling, or at the very least be in a position to develop their own work without being dependent upon spending years at an atelier in Florence. Some will probably stay and work with him longer than the year, but there are no guarantees here.

Interestingly James, like my icon own teacher iconographer Aidan Hart, is largely self-taught. Both were able to do this by studying in such a way that they discerned at a deep level the principles behind the traditions they were working in. The training I was given by Aidan was not so much about how to paint icons (although clearly it did involve some of this) but more about passing on what I needed to understand so that I could train myself. This is what Jim will be doing with his students.

This is an exciting development and I recommend young artists to consider this. He is looking for people who have the right qualities - self-discipline and preparedness to deal with the business side of being a successful artist - as much as artistic talent.

Now that I am in the United States, I asked him about the possibility of training students from abroad. Jim said that he was certainly open to this - he was providing basic accommodation, so as long as they were prepared to travel to England he would take them on. He did note that the individuals would have to have to adapt the business elements to American situation once they left (for example, the regulatory aspects of establishing a business).

Enquiries should be made through his website

NLM Reprint: Prudentius on the Passion of Ss. Peter and Paul

Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (ca. A.D. 348-413), better known simply as Prudentius, was a Roman Christian poet, and of noted interested for today's great feast is his poem, taken from his Liber Peristephanon (Book of the Martyrs Crowns), the Passion of the Apostles Peter and Paul (Passio Apostolorum Petri et Pauli).

I am happy to present today the English translation provided from the Fathers of the Church series. (Those who wish to read the original Latin text may do so here.)

Whenever I read Prudentius, I am always interested in what one might historically glean from him and I would draw your attention to the first two stanzas of this poem, as well as to the last eleven. There we are given some sense of the festivities that occurred within Rome surrounding the feast of these two apostles.

We read for example: "More than their wont do the people flock hither today; my friend pray tell me why do they hurry throughout Rome rejoicing?"

And still further: "Mark how the people of Romulus surge through the streets in both directions, for two feasts on this day are celebrated. Now with glad steps let us hasten to visit these holy sanctuaries, and there let us unite in hymns of joy. First we shall go by the road that leads over the mighty bridge of Hadrian, and later we will seek the stream's left margin. After the vigil the Pontiff officiates first across the Tiber, then hither hastens to renew the offering."

We celebrate a great feast today indeed.

The Passion of the Apostles Peter and Paul

More than their wont do the people flock hither
today; my friend pray tell me
Why do they hurry throughout Rome rejoicing?

Once more has come round the triumphal feast day
of two apostles,
By blood of Peter and of Paul made sacred.

One and the same day with space of a year intervening
was the witness
Of laurels won by glorious death in battle.

Well does the Tiberine marsh that is washed by the
river flowing through it
Know that its soil by these twin crowns was hallowed.

For it was witness to victories by cross and by sword,
which twice poured showers
Of crimson rain upon its grassy meadows.

Sentence fell first upon Peter, condemned by the laws
of cruel Nero
To die, upon a lofty tree suspended.

Fearing, however, to rival the glory won by his
Lord and Master
By death upon a towering wooden gibbet,

He was resolved to be nailed with his feet in the air
and head bent downward
So that the crown unto the base extended.

Straightaway his hand were then fastened below and
his feet turned toward the summit,
His soul more noble as his frame was humbled.

Mindful that heaven is wont to be reached from a
lowly place more quickly,
He bowed his head in giving up his spirit.

When the bright car of the sun had completed the
journey round its orbit,
And that day dawned again on earth's horizon.

Nero unleashed all his ire on the neck of the Doctor
of the Gentiles
And straightaway ordered Paul to be beheaded.

That his release from this life was at hand the Apostle
had predicted:
"I long to be with Christ, my course is finished."

Without delay he was seized and to death by the
sword was rudely sentenced.
The hour and day were those of his foretelling.

Flowing between the blest tombs of the martyrs, the
Tiber separates them,
Both banks made holy by their sacred ashes.

On the right bank in a golden basilica lie the bones
of Peter,
Mid olives gray and near a purling fountain.

Water that trickles from the springs on the hilltop
sustains this lively streamlet,
Forever fruitful of the holy chrism.

Now through a channel of marble it rushes and
moistens all the hillside,
At least emerging in a verdant basin.

Down in the lowermost part of the underground
crypt the stream falls loudly
Into a deep and icy pool of water.

Bright-hued mosaics above are reflected upon in
glassy surface,
The gold is tinged with green from shining

While in the shades of the water is mirrored the
overhanging purple;
The ceiling seems to dance upon the billows.

There the great Shepherd now laves in this icy
cold spool of living waters
The sheep that thirst for Christ's eternal

Opposite, near the left bank of the Tiber, the
Ostian Way now treasures
The temple that to Paul is dedicated.

Regal in style in this shrine that our dutiful sovereign
has embellished
And poured upon its walls his boundless riches.

Plates of bright gold he affixed to the beams, and the
light within is ruddy
As is the morning sun at its first rising.

Columns of Parian marble upholding the rich
gold-paneled ceiling
Adorn the central aisle in fourfold order.

Then with mosaics of many bright hues he inlaid
the vaulted arches,
Which shine like meadows gay with flowers
in springtime.

Lo, you behold the twin dowers of Faith by the
Heavenly Father given
To be revered by togaed Rome forever.

Mark how the people of Romulus surge through
the streets in both directions,
For two feasts on this day are celebrated.

Now with glad steps let us hasten to visit these
holy sanctuaries,
And there let us unite in hymns of joy.

First we shall go by the road that leads over the
mighty bridge of Hadrian,
And later we will seek the stream's left margin.

After the vigil the Pontiff officiates first across the
Then hither hastens to renew the offering.

Let it suffice that at Rome you have learned of these
feasts; in your own country,
Remember thus to keep this double feast day!

Fr. Hunwicke's EF Mass at the London Oratory

Further to the splendid news of Fr. John Hunwicke's ordination, we are now pleased to be able to bring you some photographs of his first Mass as a Catholic priest which came within the context of the usus antiquor, a Low Mass, celebrated on one of the side altars of the London Oratory. Fr. Hunwicke's Mass was served by one of the Transalpine Redemptorists.

Fr. Hunwicke also plans to offer his first Catholic Mass in the Ordinary Form at the Church of the Holy Rood in Oxford this Saturday, June 30th at 6:00pm.

(Many thanks to the London Oratory for coordinating these photos and to some of the kind members of the Transalpine Redemptorists for taking them. And congratulations again to Fr. Hunwicke.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I wished to bring readers attention to a reasonably new website dedicated to the liturgy of the Mass:

Admittedly I haven't had a chance to look at it very closely myself, but it looks rather interesting. Amongst other things I see pieces on the Sarum use, on the ministerial priesthood, "what Vatican II didn't change" and much more.

The Priestly Ordination of Fr. John Hunwicke

In what must be one of the most publicly anticipated priestly ordinations for the Ordinariate, yesterday Fr. John Hunwicke was ordained to the Catholic priesthood at St. Aloysius's in Oxford (i.e. the Oxford Oratory).

Here are some of the photos, courtesy of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Please join us in sending our heartfelt congratulations to Fr. Hunwicke.

Photos courtesy the Marylebone Ordinariate Group

17th Century Lace Paraments

By Way of Preface: Somewhat amusingly -- not to mention entirely incorrectly -- I have on a couple of occasions been accused of being "focused on lace." I personally found these accusations quite amusing given that I have never actually written a post about lace, nor have I ever broached the subject of my own accord -- and where I have ever spoken on it, it has always been reactive to some combox controversy wherein I try to interject a bit of the Aristotelian "middle way" to the matter.

At any rate, I mention this because, now, after nearly seven years of this blog's existence, here we finally do have a post which has something to do with lace, but within a context that is a little bit different from what we are usually accustomed to.

* * *

The use of lace in items like albs, surplices and the like is certainly well enough known, if not also the object of some disagreement between certain liturgical parties, but here is an interesting twist on this matter; lace paraments:

These photos come from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

They comment:

Lace was among the most highly prized and expensive of all textiles in the 17th century. From the main centres of production in Italy and Flanders it was traded widely across Europe, and the industry responded quickly to changes in fashionable dress, as different styles came in and out of favour. In the 1660s, Venetian needle lace became the most fashionable lace, dominating the upper end of the market for both men’s and women’s dress. The industry also expanded rapidly through the patronage of the Catholic Church. Italian lace-makers exaggerated the three-dimensional qualities of needle lace, and developed the technique of dividing up large patterns into manageable sections, enabling the production of large-scale ecclesiastical items like vestments and church furnishings that were conspicuously extravagant.

Regardless of one's personal preferences in this regard, the value which was historically attributed to lace can hopefully shed greater historical light on why it was used within the sacred liturgy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Details: Arms, Chasuble

Rare Russian Orthodox Liturgical Recordings

Here are some interesting liturgical rarities from Russian Orthodoxy, sent in by one of of our readers many months ago.

One in particular caught my attention. It is a recording from circa 1910 in Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Moscow, wherein Archdeacon Afanasii Zdihovsky sings Many Years to the Russian Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and the Imperial family:

In another recording, we hear the same archdeacon singing "The Doors, The Doors" followed by the Creed:

McCrery: Reconfiguring Holy Cross Church, Rumson, New Jersy

Earlier this month, we showed to our readers the design of McCrery Architects for Saint Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken, South Carolina.

Today I wished to share with you another new project, this one a bit different insofar as it involves incorporating an existing historical structure, but one which has become too small for the parish congregation. The church in question is Holy Cross Church in Rumson, New Jersey.

Needless to say, working with an existing structure leads to some interesting challenges.

McCrery describes the project accordingly:

This project is for an addition to and transformation of an historic wood-frame shingled church building in historic Rumson, New Jersey. Built in 1885 to the designs of Charles Keely, the current church is quite small and will be expanded by means of transept additions and extension of the nave. The interior will be turned 180 degrees so as to orient the Mass.

Before we proceed with the watercolours, a brief pause on this little abstract. You will note the interesting detail here in the last sentence: "The interior will be turned 180 degrees so as to orient the Mass."

I am sure there will be some discussion as to whether this literal geographic orienting is strictly necessary given that the symbolic representation of a "liturgical East" was to eventually became so common in the Latin West; nonetheless, it is certainly laudable in its own right that such a desire exists to see the Eastwardness of liturgical prayer restored and it would seem evident that the intent is to indeed celebrate the sacred liturgy to the East, liturgically and geographically. Whatever one's position on literal vs. symbolic expressions of Eastwardness in liturgical prayer, this is surely a wonderful thing.

Here then are the proposed designs:

The original Eastern entrance to the church now becomes a sacristy entrance. Transepts have been added to each side, giving the church a cruciform shape.

Two points will likely be the source of some discussion amongst our readers.

One is the placement of the original spire in the context of the new design. For my own part, I wonder if it should ideally be moved given the re-orientation of the church; perhaps to the axis where the transepts meet the nave -- of course, this is easy enough to suggest but obviously there is a cost which goes with this suggestion and likely not an insignificant one. Here too we can perhaps return to the question about literal vs. symbolic Eastwardness. Were the original entrance and sanctuary placement to be maintained, evidently the spire would be able remain within its original context at the entrance of the church. Doing this would mean sacrificing the literal Eastwardness of the altar and sanctuary of course -- which, given the tradition of symbolic, liturgical Eastwardness as it developed in the Latin rite is fine all things considered -- but on the other hand, there may be other considerations driving this re-configuration.

The second aspect which I am sure will be the source of some discussion is the fact that the exterior has a sort of gothic quality, while the interior is more Italianate. However, I would note that if you look at the exterior and the interior of the present church, you will see that this is not the result of a present design decision, but is rather a continuation of the existing historical design.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Vestment Work from Russia

As our regular readers will know, we have generally made it a practice to share new liturgical art work including vestment work -- in fact, especially vestment work since, unlike the other liturgical arts, vestments are more frequently made and commissioned and thus examples are more readily forthcoming.

At any rate, I wished to share some further new work, this time executed in Moscow, Russia. The set was made specifically for the Christmas season (and hence, I am informed, the star imagery which is used). Here is the chasuble:

I quite like the textiles used in this piece, including how the patterns are used. Moreover, I do find the star design on the back interesting insofar as it has a certain originality, but one which is not over-stated.

Altar Cards for Other Western Uses

One of the practical advantages which the era of modern desktop publishing and printing brings is that what would once have been nearly out of reach is now much more readily attainable and available -- not to mention economical.

What I am thinking of here is that, previously, it would be very difficult to come across liturgical resources like altar cards for liturgical uses outside the traditional Roman rite. Fortunately, however, modern printing technology has bridged that gap, making it quite a bit more easy to either purchase these items, or to commission them.

Myriad Creative Concepts has been doing just that sort of work -- including altar cards for the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite. Here, for example, are two sets of altar cards, the first for the Carmelite rite, the second for the Dominican rite:

It is my feeling that this sort of enterprise helps to contribute to the revival of these Western liturgical uses insofar as having available liturgical resources is one important step toward encouraging their re-adoption.

Cardinal Burke in Imperia

By way of Luca Pavan Bresciano on Facebook, I see that Cardinal Burke celebrated a Pontifical Mass in the Ordinary Form on June 24th in Oneglia, Liguria, Italy at the church of San Giovanni Battista. Along with Cardinal Burke was the bishop of Albenga-Imperia, Bishop Mario Oliveri -- as well as one other bishop who is unknown to me.

There were only a few photos taken so far as I can see, and here is a brief selection.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Details (Malta)


First EF Mass of a Newly Ordained Dutch Priest

From a Missa Cantata celebrating the 20th anniversary of one priest, we now turn to the first usus antiquior of a newly ordained diocesan priest, Fr. Patrick Kuis of the the diocese of Den Bosch in the Netherlands.

The Mass was offered in beautiful St. Agnes church in Amsterdam -- which we have featured before as part of our Other Modern series.

Here are a few photos of the happy event.

From Padre to iPadre: 20 Years

Recently, Fr. Jay Finelli (the iPadre) celebrated a Missa Cantata for the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

The Mass was held at St. Theresa’s Shrine on the outdoor grotto altar with music provided by the Schola Cantorum Sanctae Ceciliae, directed by Henri St. Louis.

NLM's Fr. Thomas Kocik was there. Here are a few photos. Congratulations to Fr. Finelli on this wonderful milestone.

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