Saturday, June 18, 2016

Information About Cerecloths

In response to a reader’s request about where to get a cerecloth, the waxed linen cloth which traditionally goes under the altar-cloths, a few suggestions were given in the combox on the original post. Here are the responses I received by email.

- The website of St Joseph’s Apprentice, a company that makes portable altars, and offers cerecloths for them. (A cerecloth for a portable altar would of course be too small for a regular one, but they might be interested in making a full-sized version.)

- “The last cere cloth that I purchased came from C.M. Almy. Admittedly, that was over 40 years ago and they no longer have them in their catalog. Nevertheless, I have found that, if they still have the ‘recipe’ in their files, they are often willing to fill orders. It will not be cheap, but, then, it wasn’t cheap 40-some years ago, either.”

- This post from the “The Altar Guild Resource for the (Episcopal) Diocese of Rhode Island.”

- Mr Louis Tofari of Romanitas Press points out that the Catholic Encyclopedia article I cited in the first post explains how to make a cerecloth; the process seems complicated and potentially very, very messy.

“To procure cerecloths, melt the remnants of wax candles in a small vessel. When the wax is in a boiling condition, skim off the impurities that remain from the soiled stumps of candles. Dip into this wax the linen intended for the cerecloth, and when well saturated hang it on a clothes-line, allowing the surplus wax to drop off. When the wax cloth has hardened place it between two unwaxed sheets of linen of like dimensions. Iron thoroughly with a well heated flat iron, thus securing three wax cloths. The table on which the cloths are ironed should be covered with an old cloth or thick paper to receive the superfluous wax when melted by the iron. It should be remembered that unwashed linen when dipped in wax shrinks considerably, hence before the cloths are waxed they should be much larger than the size of the altar for which they are intended.”

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