Monday, July 31, 2017

Precious Blood Chasuble

We are always on the lookout for talented new vestment makers who have a love for the sacred liturgy. The chasuble shown here was made by Adam Bławat of the Polish vestment company Benedicamus. A keen medievalist, he specialises in the re-creation of historical vestments using textiles based on historical designs. Thanks to a benefaction, I commissioned this red chasuble, and the design was suggested by Adam who worked closely in consultation with me.

The inspiration for this chasuble was a German brass memorial from 1340, shown here. The original is clearly a conical vestment. However, out of consideration that the chasuble will be worn by different priests in our Dominican community, I decided that a conical vestment would be too awkward. Adam came up with a good solution. The cut of the chasuble is quite unique, like a full Gothic which mimics the folds and fullness of the conical form without encumbering the hands too much.

The historical brocade that was chosen matches very closely the brass memorial. The textile, fashioned from woven silk, is a replica of the brocade of the chasuble of Pope Boniface VIII (d.1303). The double-headed eagle on the design of this textile indicates that it was probably a cloth of imperial Byzantine origin; the gryphon is a symbol of the two natures of Christ; the birds, which echo a design on my ordination chasuble, is a symbol of souls in heaven, or perched on the Tree of Life.

The chasuble was originally intended to be used on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, but the delivery took longer than anticipated. Hence it was used for the first time in a Dominican rite Mass on the feast of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus (1 July).

The orphrey of the chasuble is studded with coral flowers, and I discovered subsequently that the Native Americans regard coral as a symbol of blood. How very providential! The pearls, also on the orphrey, are a symbol of divine truth or wisdom and, indeed, of the Kingdom of heaven. The vestment set is complemented with an apparelled amice.

Therefore this chasuble points to the Blood of Christ the God-Man, that was shed for our salvation – a divine truth that is like a priceless pearl for which we should give our all (cf. yesterday’s Gospel, from Matthew 13:45-46).

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