Friday, 21 July 2017

Ordinands for 2018

Commissions for the first half of 2018 are now being accepted.
  
Will you be ordained in 2018?

Please do not delay in making an enquiry.  

Places in our schedule are limited. NOW is the time to be in contact with the Studio.  

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A Night Prayer

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; 
and by thy great mercy defend us 
from all perils and dangers of this night; 
for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

This brief but lovely prayer is found in the 1559 version of The Book of Common Prayer, and had its antecedent in pre-Reformation English Catholic use, being the last prayer of the Office of Compline in the Sarum Use.

The redoubtable Father Hunwicke has an exposition of this prayer for us, which is most interesting.

Whatever the intention of the ancient author of this oration, we can now look at Cranmer's choice of the translation "lighten" in two ways :

"Shed your light upon our darkness"   or

"Lift the burden of our darkness".

In such an understanding, Darkness may refer to our sinfulness, or to our spiritual or intellectual blindness. It is certainly a prayer for those who wish to be at rights with God before sleep descends.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

For the Season "Per Annum" 2017 : 5

This is a chasuble in the Studio's Saint Martin style, being a contemporary interpretation of the mediaeval chasuble. It is a very ample vestment made from a simple silk in a darker shade of green. It is ornamented in the Roman style with a braid of the Studio's own design, but based on the work of AWN Pugin. It is fully lined in red taffeta.

Click on the adjacent image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com



Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Season "Per Annum" 2017 : 4

Green vestments
The Studio has completed this set of vestments in our Saint Giles style, being a more flowing and slightly more ample chasuble in the Gothic style.

These vestments are made from a beautiful brocade in two shades of green, one being very dark, the other an Emerald green. Their combination is very rich and distinctive. Ornamenting the vestments is the earliest of the Studio's Puginesque braids, a design of alternating quatrefoils in gold upon a red base. The lining is a brighter red.

The chasuble is shewn being worn with an apparelled amice.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com

Friday, 7 July 2017

Mediaeval Pontificals : 2


The above painting of Saint Nicholas of Myra was painted by the Florentine artist Pacino di Bonaguida, who worked at the beginning of the Fourteenth century (1302 to before 1340).

The website of the J Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles) tells us that twentieth-century scholars reconstructed Pacino da Bonaguida's career, based upon his only known signed painting: an altarpiece in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. Pacino spent his entire career in Florence, where, in addition to altarpieces, he painted miniatures and decorations for illuminated manuscripts. He is considered the inventor of miniaturism, a style distinguished by a clear organisation of the painting surface into multiple small-scale scenes.

This work, which is painted in an iconographic style, depicts Saint Nicholas as a bishop of the the early Fourteenth century. Visible in the painting are the bishop's chasuble, amice apparel, a liturgical book, gloves, ring, crosier and mitre.

The condition of the above reproduction of Pacino's painting being what it is, it is not possible to determine precisely the colour of the chasuble. Certainly its lining is black, so we are inclined to think this semi-conical chasuble is of black damask, figured with gold quatrefoils. The fabric may, however, be a very dark green. The ornament of the chasuble is quite interesting, since it is a very early example of a woven braid, or at least is depicted as such. We can tell this since at the intersection point of the TAU piece (which rests upon the chest) the designs can be seen quite clearly to be disappearing beneath the horizontal ornament. Were the entire orphrey embroidered, such an arrangement would be avoided. The woven braid itself consists of geometrical patterns, rather than religious figures, and these designs are presented in colours of red, black and gold on a neutral background.

This early example of the TAU ornament is interesting also since it is really in the shape of a Cross " t " rather than " T ". Unlike the presentation of the TAU in later centuries, this decoration has a very short horizontal band. Sitting around the neckline is an amice apparel which, although of a different design, is woven in similar colours to the chasuble orphrey.

The white Episcopal gloves being worn by Saint Nicholas appear to be embroidered with a coat of arms. In his right hand, the Saint is depicted holding a liturgical book, whether it be an Evangelarium or a Sacramentary is unable to be determined.

Upon his head, Saint Nicholas is shewn to be wearing a precious mitre in the early mediaeval style. It is of white linen or silk and is ornamented in the usual style with the circulus and titulus bands.  These are of embroidered geometric designs upon a gold background.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Orphrey Braids of the Saint Bede Studio

Each year, the Saint Bede Studio adds to its stable of orphrey braids.  Most of our braids are derived from precedents, either Gothic Revival or Mediaeval. They are never merely copies, but always have original touches to enhance the diversity of their use.

These unique braids are designed by the Studio and only used in conjunction with our vestments. They are not commercially available, nor available to any other vestment makers and are reserved under international copyright.

The braids shewn in the adjacent image are used for orphreys in both the Gothic and Roman * styles of vestments designed and made by the Studio.

Enquiries : stbede62@gmail.com


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* The Studio's interpretation of the Roman style is represented by the Borromeon, Saint Martin and Saint Philip Neri chasubles.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

To What End Sacred Vestments?

Solemn Mass at the Abbey of 
Saint Madeleine, Le Barroux.
If we were to accept the notion that a priest is the "president of the christian assembly" then what he wears to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy would be merely an expression of his personality or tastes. The notion of presider is an entirely modern (and an execrable) concept. A priest, bishop or Pope celebrates the Sacred Mysteries. In the East, the term used is to serve.

Because the celebrant is least of all a "presider", what he wears should not essentially be about his own preferences and personality. A priest should ask of himself :

Is what I am wearing worthy of my ministry standing between God and man to offer the Holy Sacrifice?

Will what I am wearing draw those who look upon me during Mass into a closer appreciation of the Sacred Mysteries, in other words, will it raise their hearts and minds to God?

Or will it act as a distraction to the Faithful attending Mass?

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Mediaeval Pontificals
(re-posted)

15th century painting of S' Peter Damian.


When looking at mediaeval depictions of bishops or popes vested for Mass, we find certain things in common with the Pontifical vestments of a 21st century Catholic bishop, but some significant differences. The most striking difference is the usual lack of an Episcopal dalmatic amongst the vestments of a modern bishop. Even when a dalmatic is worn, it is usually an affair so non-descript as to be hardly noticeable.

Before Pope Paul VI entered Saint Peter's Basilica to celebrate Mass solemnly in 1965, bishops or popes had - since the earliest centuries of the Church (certainly since the Constantinian period) - worn a dalmatic underneath the chasuble. *   Paul VI was the first to break this tradition, when he appeared in a flowing chasuble, with no dalmatic beneath. As a matter of fact, until the end of his Pontificate in 1978, typically he left aside the use of the dalmatic. His successors, John Paul I, S. John Paul II and Francis all likewise have left aside the dalmatic. Benedict XVI was a happy exception to this, adopting quite early on in his Pontificate the use of the dalmatic beneath the chasuble on all solemn occasions.

The pity of this is that the dalmatic worn with the chasuble symbolised the fullness of Holy Orders enjoyed by a bishop. A bishop is incompletely vested if he lacks the dalmatic. The claim that it is too burdensome to wear a dalmatic beneath the chasuble is, to say the least, pitiful.

In this post, we look at a painting which once formed part of altarpiece from Faenza in Italy of the early 15th century, which depicts Saint Peter Damian. The artist Peruccino - who was known as the Master of Saint Peter Damian - prepared this likeness from the effigy on the sarcophagus of the saint.

The saint is depicted wearing a style of vestments commonly known in 14th and 15th century Italy; namely : a flowing linen albe which is unadorned with either apparels or embroidery; a red semi-conical chasuble whose Tau ornament is formed from embroidered cameos of the saints and upon his head a precious mitre of white silk ornamented and embroidered with goldwork and precious stones.

We also see the Episcopal dalmatic (the tunic can also just be seen). It is immediately noticeable how elaborate the dalmatic is : not a plain affair of simple silk. It is made from a rich damask of deep green ornamented with gold embroidery and outlined with gold braid. One could be forgiven for observing that the dalmatic has a richer appearance than the chasuble itself. But certainly the dalmatic enriches the appearance of the wearer and is not intended to be invisible.

Imagine how dignified a modern bishop would look if he were to wear a dalmatic of such nobility beneath his chasuble? One can but hope.

* In addition, a bishop would also wear a tunic, being the vestment of the subdeacon, but this requirement for the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite lapsed when the subdiaconate was abolished as a Major Order in 1973. 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Altar Frontal : 2

In a previous post, we introduced why altar frontals or antependia are desirable to cloth altars, based on liturgical law, sacred symbolism and aesthetics. These are compelling reasons for the use of the frontal, but so frequently two objections are offered why the altar frontal is not used :

The altar is so beautiful, why would we cover it up?

It is too difficult to be changing frontals frequently.

The answers to the first objection may be found by re-reading our first post.  But in this article we wish to begin to discuss the second objection.

A splendidly designed and embroidered altar frontal
clothing the High Altar of Westminster Cathedral (UK).
The use of the original High altar for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy
was reintroduced by the present Archbishop of Westminster,
shewn in the photograph offering Mass.

Firstly, some terminology. The words frontal and antependium presuppose that the covering is applied only to one face of the altar namely, the front of it. This is perfectly proper when considering an altar which is attached to a reredos, or very close to a wall and therefore not freestanding. An altar, however, is a three-dimensional structure and - if it is freestanding - it ought to be fully clothed, not just clothed on those sides which are generally visible. Consequently, we also find the term altar pall which describes a parament which covers all sides of the altar or, at the least, two of them, the front face and the back face.

A free-standing altar placed in a central position which can be viewed from all sides, requires coverings at the front and the back (we leave aside the question of the linen altar cloths) in order for the covering to fulfil its purpose. It is unseemly to cover the front and not the back of an altar, unless of course, one takes the view that the altar frontal is purely used for aesthetic effect.

Where possible, and for reasons of adequately expressing sacred symbolism, the altar pall or frontal ought to be changed in accordance with the colour of the Liturgical Day or Season. It is quite acceptable, however, to have a worthy form of altar pall which is changed hardly ever. It is when several frontals or palls are used and have to be changed that the second objection becomes more prominent.

At present, as in the past, very few altars are designed with any thought given to their being covered with a pall or frontal. This is a serious deficiency in the vision of designers, but it is hardly a new one. It is very important when designing altars that serious consideration is given as to how they will be clothed. If no arrangement, or a clumsy arrangement is made for clothing an altar with a pall, quite quickly this will be cited as the reason NOT to use an altar pall or frontal. "It's too much trouble".

We will pass over without comment those execrable and unbefitting creations which, being multi-sided instead of four-sided, arrogantly defy sacred Tradition and any form of altar covering.

To be continued ...