Altar Linens: Using Color

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Altar Linens: Using Color

Altar Linens: Using Color: What could be more beautiful than white Carrara Marble, German Stained glass windows depicting Biblical scenes from the life of Christ, magnificent statues, and classical architecture with soaring ceilings? There are undoubtedly many churches throughout the world that might lay claim to such a description. One must only close their eyes to envision such a place. On a recent business trip to Denver, which was sadly not related to Ecclesiastical Sewing, I was able to carve out half a day to take one or two site visits. I confess I had not planned ahead, knowing the trip was short, and time would be limited.

Upon arrival in Denver, a quick search via the internet revealed a Catholic Church located a short walk from our hotel. Chances were that a visit to a Catholic church in a major metropolitan area might yield at least one, or possibly two Ecclesiastical Sewing Treasures. And if it failed to reveal said treasures, the weather was fine, and a walk would be lovely. Denver was a little on the warm side, in the 90’s. So the walk was not very fast.

Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

We arrived at the Basilica only to find it under various stages of restoration – at least on the outside. The brass front doors were hidden by scaffolding. But an entrance was open and soon yielded entry into a most lovely church interior. Upon entering the church, one’s attention is immediately absorbed by multiple areas and design features, which include extraordinary stained glass windows, altars, and statues.  The Basilica has a High Altar and two side altars, each under soaring vaulted ceilings graced with stained glass windows featuring a story from the Life of Christ.

Side Chapel Denver Basilica

The Mary Chapel is to the right as one faces the High Altar.

Mary's Altar Denver Basilica

Mary’s Altar has an elaborate Marion Symbol carved on the front, along with the four columns and other details. A simple linen cloth with an embroidered edge adorns the altar. After all, who would want to cover up all of the lovely carvings on an altar like this with a heavy altar hanging?

Christ Chapel Denver Basilica

To the left of the High Altar is another side altar with a statue of Christ.

Christ Chapel Denver Basilica

Elaborate carvings grace this altar, as they did the Mary Altar. The center motif on this altar features an IHS design. I love photographing these types of designs. Once in a great while, there is one that is unique and different enough to be translated into an embroidery design.

Side Chapels Denver Basilica

The altar linen cloth is identical to that used in the Mary Chapel. Even from a fair distance, the use of color is evident on this altar cloth.

Altar Linen Embroidery: White and Gold Motifs

Altar Linens in white and gold

This is the altar in the Mary Chapel which allows a closer view of the altar linen. The edge of the linen is cut so that it hangs over the front of the altar by a few inches. This linen edge is embroidered using the colors of white and gold. And it fits this space perfectly! There is so much white inside this Basilica. The gold provides a much-needed contrast so the altar linen is not lost among all of the other whites of the chapel.

Altar Linen Embroidery, Altar Linen Color

Taking a closer look, I noticed that the design motifs of the altar linen feature a cross worked in gold embroidery thread, and a wheat and grape motif worked in white embroidery thread. A scalloped or shell satin stitch decorates the edge of the altar linen, creating a perfect complement to this lovely Basilica. Perhaps this color combination of white and gold embroidery might serve as an inspiration for some future Church Linen projects.

There was much to see in the Denver Basilica, but time was limited. Much of my time was spent trying to photograph the exquisite stained glass windows.  Those photos still need some editing and a few may find their way into future Ecclesiastical Sewing posts.  Until then.

Solo Dei Gloria

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  1. I am so glad I stumbled across your post. As a former Denver resident I spent many hours in the Basilica. It is lovely. Thanks for sharing the photos.