Resources for Ecclesiastical Symbols

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Resources for Ecclesiastical Symbols

Coming up with Resources for Ecclesiastical symbols is sometimes a challenge.  Many of us can sew, applique, embroider, or do other types of handwork to execute an Ecclesiastical Design, but we do not want to create the original design.  Short of having a resident artist as a personal friend or family member, what does one do to come up with Ecclesiastical Embroidery Designs or church embroidery patterns?

There are a few websites out there that might be of some help.  One site to check out is Christian Symbols.

The site has a book for sale that explains the history and significance behind many familiar, and some not-so-familiar Christian Symbols.  Also on the site are some PDF download files with Cross and Monogram Symbols.

The symbol designs are very simple outlines of shapes and designs. If you do download the Cross and Monogram Symbol PDF files, please be sure to honor the author’s copyright statement, as the designs are being offered for free.

Over on Project Canterbury, there is a nice little book available online entitled Embroidery for Church Guilds.

Embroidery for Church Guilds

Design from Embroidery for Church Guilds by Sarah Cazneau Woodward 1896
Design from Embroidery for Church Guilds by Sarah Cazneau Woodward 1896

The online book, Embroidery for Church Guilds by Sara Woodward, 1896, has some very simple designs with brief instructions as to color and makeup. There is nothing fancy in the little booklet. It is very simple, and, as always, it is fun to step back in time to read these precious treasures from another generation.

Taking a turn in the opposite direction, for those interested in more complex designs, Corpus Christi Watershed is archiving a wonderful collection of Catholic Black and White Line Art. Doing a search for Catholic Line Art in Images will also produce a wealth of beautiful Catholic Religious Line Art.

Nativity from Catholic Missal – Line Art

The Nativity From Catholic Missal - Line Art
The Nativity From Catholic Missal – Line Art

The background on the line art, along with information on the origin of the Catholic Line Art Designs can be found on the Corpus Christi Watershed Project. The designs were found in the Archives of Benedictine Abbey. It took a great deal of effort for the designs to be archived and preserved for use by artisans and church members interested in art history.

Catholic Line Art Christmas Imperat

Catholic Line Art Christus imperat
Catholic Line Art Christus imperat

The designs cover a wide range of topics and are wonderfully complex with rich symbolism. The artists knew their history when it came to using symbols.  Sometimes complexity is good. Today, we too often show interest only in simple things and fail to take the time to really look at something, study it, or contemplate the meaning of things like symbols. For example, one might wonder, what was the artist trying to convey with the symbols selected for use in the design? Understanding the symbolism and how line and design convey that meaning is a wonderful teaching tool as well as a design of great beauty.

Christ Figure from Catholic Missal Line Art

Christ Figure from Catholic Missal Line Art
Christ Figure from Catholic Missal Line Art

The Catholic Line Art Designs evoke the complexity found in some of the early Opus Anglicanum Embroidery Designs, which featured many architectural motifs as well as figures and complex, detailed backgrounds.

Of course, translating any of the Catholic Line Art Designs for use as needlework would take a great deal of time and effort.

Executing a design like this would be the work of a lifetime!  What a challenge that would be. Although the designs are complex, breaking a design down and selecting an element as design inspiration for an Ecclesiastical Embroidery project or design would be exciting, too.  It just takes a little time and creativity.  So, do any of these resources inspire you to take on an Ecclesiastical Sewing or Embroidery Project?

You may also enjoy a bit of history about the Pelican as a church symbol.

Solo Dei Gloria

Be sure to visit our online storefront Ecclesiastical Sewing where you may shop for Liturgical Fabrics, altar linen fabrics, church vestment-making patterns, liturgical machine embroidery designschurch vestment trims, notions and so much more. You may also find us on  Ecclesiastical Sewing on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Sign up for our mailing list at the bottom of the page on our online storefront and receive a free copy of our Small Linens Booklet as our way of saying thank you for following along.

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