Chalice Veil Design from Althea Wiel
The use of symbolism in Ecclesiastical Embroidery Designs has a long and rich history. It goes back to the first books of the Bible and the instructions given to Moses and Aaron with regards to the making of Priestly Clothing. The skill of a good designer shines forth when they are able to incorporate meaningful symbols within a beautiful design. A little while ago, I wrote about Alethea Wiel, a skilled Ecclesiastical Artisan and Designer here Weekend Reading and Musing and here New Books New Information
Stepping back in time-120 years ago-to the year 1894, the author, in the introduction to her book “Designs for Church Embroidery” states she never intended to publish her work. She felt it was incomplete and merely a suggestion of outlines and hints for church embroidery. It was only upon the advice of friends that she decided to publish her work for Church Embroidery. A publication of the day said of her work, “There was some really very fine original embroidery designs and lent by A.R….”
The Chalice in design is standing on seven rocks which represent the Seven Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. If one looks closely, then they will see the Nativity is engraved on the Chalice. Christ appears to be rising from the Chalice as the Blessed Sacrament. Angels with incense adorn either side of Christ, are Luke and John and their emblems under a canopy of vines, leaves and grapes.
Now, turning the design around, the Crucifixion is represented with two angles turning away from Christ, trying with their wings to screen from their sight His suffering. Matthew and Mark are in these corners with their emblems. The vine is the emblem of Christ.
Great skill and knowledge-as well as attention to detail-were needed by the designer when creating this work of art. The piece is beautifully balanced, with flow and movement from the composition and directing the gaze of the viewer to the different parts of the Ecclesiastical Embroidery Design. One has to remember how this flat two-dimensional piece would be intended for viewing: draped over the Chalice. The concept of using two distinct images of Christ to be alternated based on the season of the Church Year is brilliant.
This would be a stunning piece to see embroidered!
Solo Dei Gloria
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