Vintage Church Vestment Surprise
Last week I had the pleasure of taking a short Holiday in Florida. The trip combined a bit of Ecclesiastical Sewing Business with a bit of pleasure and relaxation. A friend had kindly suggested I take a tour of the St. Leo Monastery located north of the Tampa area, and it was a delightful place to visits. There were two copes that were must see for the visit, and we will get to those in time. But there were also a few other church vestment treasures which caught my eye.
The monastery has a small reception or waiting room off to the side of the chapel which had several display cases with assorted altar serving items and vestments. Naturally, the textiles drew my immediate attention. I noticed the lower shelf had an older maniple and framed burse. I’m taking a guess that the framed item is a burse. It is a square item, and it has the center cross with the galloon edging, but I could be wrong.
There were no marking regarding these item as to a date or when they were in use at the monastery. One could guess at the age as being from the early part of the last century or earlier, or there might be an archive that tells when the monastery may have received a them. Fair to say, they are treasures from past days. The items have bullion fringe, which was heavily used on vestments of long ago.
I must apologize for the image quality of the photos. The items were in a glass case, and there was a window which had the full radiance of the sun streaming in, making it nearly impossible to get a few good shots. In looking at the above photo one can see the beauty of the galloon trim with the dots used for the floral center. As I look closer at this fabric, there is something familiar about it – even in this tiny corner shot.
Many vestments from days gone by (and for some vestments still made today), a cross, made from galloon trim, was placed at the end of either stoles, maniples or other vestments. There were many ways of creating these galloon crosses, with this being one of the more simple designs. Other cross designs had diagonal folded corners at the center that all matched up. This maniple has the galloon trim applied across the lower edge and along the sides. Do you see what I see yet about this lovely little vestment? If not, let’s keep looking. You’ll get it!
The fabric photographed as black and gold with the lighting that day, but it is really not a black fabric, but I can’t tell you what it really was because I was too busy fighting the bright sunshine and frustrated that I could not capture the real color. So, yes, I need to go back and review that section under lighting on capturing color correctly.
Does this fabric look familiar to you yet? If not, here is a clue – look at the arrow at the top of the photo which is pointing to a distinctively tell-tale motif. For those of you who adore Ecclesiastical Fabrics, this might be looking a bit familiar – maybe. It is a favorite of mine, and I have used it many times in the past. Should we give another clue?
How about this? Does it look familiar? That’s right! Wakefield is the liturgical fabric used in the antique vestments from St. Leo’s Monastery. As one compares the two fabrics, there are some very slight differences in the way the pattern was set up for each. But none the less, it is Wakefield. So, now it would be even more interesting to have a date for the piece and to trace it back to see if the fabric was woven at M. Perkins and Sons long ago.
One other item of interest to note is that the motif is not centered on the maniple. The fabric pattern is cut slightly off-center, and yet it is the overall impression of the piece that is important, rather than the one small detail. Vestments are seen from a distance, and unless one was really looking closely, this would never be noticeable from 4 or 5 rows back, and certainly not from the back of the sanctuary. I admit I would find it difficult to cut a vestment off-center with the fabric pattern, but if I were running short of either fabric or money in the vestment budget, this would be an option.
While my focus has been vestments from St. Leo’s Monastery, there are also other items to be enjoyed, such as the chalice and missal stand. There are also some lovely croziers available for viewing.
I hope you are enjoying this travel adventure with Ecclesiastical Sewing. Thanks for reading along.
Solo Dei Gloria
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