Saturday, November 17, 2018

Beautiful Newly-Made Vestments at the Catholic Arts Exhibition

The seventh edition of the Catholic Arts Competition recently held at the St Vincent Gallery in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, also included among the submissions some very beautiful new vestments, which deserve a post of their own. The first one is a green chasuble from Altarworthy Handmade Vestments, similar to the one seen below in a painting of the 15th century.

The cut of this chasuble (55” x 55”) is a modified bell shape, the origins of which is found in the very earliest conical vestments derived from common ancient Roman attire. The front pillar and Tau cross on back are ornamented with carnelian and pearl; carnelian (ruby) was the first of twelve stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, on the breastplate of the high priest in the Old Tesatment, while pearls are often referred to in the Bible as a symbol of the virtue of Faith. The silk shantung lining is a terracotta/clay hue which reminds us of our earthly nature, made from dust, and to dust we will return. This silk damask faithfully reproduces the textile worn by St Martin of Tours in this painting of the Mass of Saint Martin of Tours by an anonymous Franco-Rhenish Master, ca. 1440 Silk, carnelian gems, pearls, metallic brocades, and trims
The second one, also from Altarworthy, is inspired by the Tenth Station of the Cross, in which Jesus is stripped of His garments; this is represented on the back in a painting by Susan Jasper. The silk and metallic brocade incorporates both thistles and pomegranates. The former refers to the punishment for Original Sin stated in the Book of Genesis, 3, 17-18, “…cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of they life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee…” Pomegranates, which denote royalty, are prescribed in the book of Exodus for the design of the high priest’s vestments, while the tightly ordered conforming seeds of the fruit have long been associated with the fruitfulness of Holy Mother Church. Liturgically, red is used for martyrs’ feast days or Pentecost; the black accents clarify this as a set especially for martyrs.

The third entry by the House of Hansen is a chasuble and dalmatic set in metallic brocade and trims, velvet, and metallic embroidery, commissioned for a priest’s First Mass on Pentecost. This set celebrates and calls to mind the great heirloom vestments that are characteristic of many European cathedral treasuries.

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