Wednesday, August 02, 2023

A Beautiful Vestment Set, Beautifully Restored

The sixth part of this year’s Corpus Christi photopost series (which smashed every record on our Facebook page by miles, with an astonishing 114,000+ views), began with the first Mass of Fr Paschal Pautler, a newly ordained priest of St Bernard’s Abbey in Cullman, Alabama. The vestments which he and the other major ministers used are a set which was made 125 years ago; they were restored over a period of two years, and finished just before his ordination.

Fr Paschal was kind enough to send us several more pictures of the vestments, and a write-up on the project from one of the restorers.

“This beautiful solemn Mass set holds a rich history, having been owned and cherished by the Benedictine Monks of St Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama for 125 years. Over the last two years, in preparation for the First Mass of a newly ordained priest on Corpus Christi, this treasured set underwent a meticulous restoration process to revive its splendor and ensure its continued use in sacred liturgies.

Over the years, the fabric of the set had suffered significant wear and tear. However, the majority of the intricate embroidery remained remarkably well-preserved, a testament to the skill and craftsmanship with which it was originally created. Recognizing the importance of preserving such a historical and religious artifact, the decision was made to undertake a comprehensive restoration.
The chasuble before restoration.
Damaged fabric.
The project began with recreating the fabric. Humphries Weaving was entrusted with the critical task of recreating the motif that had been lost to the passage of time, then milling the new fabric to match the original. Utilizing their extensive knowledge of traditional weaving techniques and historical restoration, they were able to meticulously recreate the pattern and mill enough fabric to complete the set. Their dedication to authenticity ensured that the restored set would be an accurate representation of its original splendor.

Next, Via Providence was entrusted with the task of carefully deconstructing the entire set. With extensive experience in the delicate art of textile restoration, and unwavering attention to detail, they disassembled the elements of the set, taking care to protect and preserve the fragile embroideries. This intricate process allowed them to assess the extent of the damage, then determine and implement the necessary repairs.
Via Providence’s expertise extended beyond restoration. They skillfully crafted and stitched new embroidery designs, carefully matching the style and essence of the original work. These newly created designs were made to adorn the set’s stoles and maniples, chalice veil, and burse, adding a touch of fresh artistry while maintaining a harmonious connection to the set’s historical motifs.

Finally, Altar Worthy took on the crucial responsibility of bringing all the individual elements together with their expertise in tailoring, design, and color coordination. With their attentive eye for detail and a deep understanding of the liturgical aesthetics, they skillfully transformed the restored fabric and embroidery into exquisite liturgical vestments. Their keen sense of design ensured that every element harmonized flawlessly, creating a visually stunning Solemn Mass set that enhances the sacredness of the Mass and sacred liturgies.
The entire project stands as a testament to the dedication and reverence for tradition displayed by all involved in this process, ensuring that future generations of monks and faithful alike will be blessed to have their worship edified by these extraordinary pieces of Catholic tradition.”
The complete set.
Details of the individual pieces

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