Wardrobes for Clergy: Liturgical Vestments and Pastoral Stoles
The wardrobe of a member of the clergy is vast. Hopefully your clergy has the basic liturgical wardrobe pieces but if they do not, it is the job of the loving members of the congregation to ensure that all the basic pieces are provided for— especially the various colors of ecclesiastical vestments for the liturgical seasons of the church year. Yet once all the essential pieces are provided for, it is lovely to add fun, new pieces to their collection. I remember a comment made by my own dear pastor, “Imagine the fun on a very special festival Sunday to have one special stole to pull out and wear for that one special Holiday!”
Elegant pastoral stoles are the easiest gift to bestow on a minister, especially to mark a special occasion which might include an anniversary celebration of the pastor or priest’s ordination, a special event that will be celebrated within your church such as a renovation, or a special festival day that is celebrated within the church year calendar. And while it is fun and exciting to think of giving a gift as a surprise, it is also most important to be considerate and ask the intended recipient their opinion and preferences before beginning any project. Think of it this way: just as we have personal tastes and preferences for our street clothing, so too do pastors and priests when it comes to their preferences and style with liturgical vestments. When I am preparing a new church vestment project, I usually have a selection of items both in fabrics and designs, and make recommendations, but leave the final choice to the clergy if they so choose. After all, they are the ones who must wear the garment.
When picking out which type of stole to make next, think about the church liturgical calendar. Currently the next major holiday on the calendar is a protestant holiday: Reformation Sunday.
In these weeks leading up to Reformation Sunday, we will be talking about the history and traditions associated with the Protestant Reformation. Even if your church does not celebrate the Protestant Reformation, learning about this period in church history is important, because of its influences on ecclesiastical vestments and ecclesiastical vestures. And if your church does not celebrate the Reformation, instead they will probably celebrate All Saints Sunday.
So right now is the perfect time to plan a new stole to celebrate this special festival Sunday for your pastor. The liturgical vestment known as the stole—the type we see today—came into form around the twelfth century; it has retained the basic shape familiar to us with minor variations over time. The variations include, width, spade ends, and neckline variations to name a few. The styles of stole decorations have changed dramatically through the centuries.
A Reformation Sunday stole is red; red is in remembrance of the martyrs. Whereas white—for All Saints Day—reminds the feasting eyes of the congregation of the triumph of the saints, washed of their sins and made as white as snow by the all availing sacrifice of Christ Our Saviour.
Appropriate symbols to embroidery on a red stole would be a Luther Rose Symbol on one side and a Chi Rho Alpha Omega embroidery design on the other. Different orphrey or trim bands can be added. And finally tassels or fringe can tastefully be placed on the bottom edge.
For a white stole, a sheaf of wheat, a Manus Dei, or a crown are all wonderful ideas to embroider onto such a stole. Of course an Alpha & Omega embroidery design, another Chi Rho Alpha Omega embroidery design, and a patonce cross can also be used for All Saints Sunday. A patonce cross is special because on each branch of the cross there are three points. It is used famously in heraldry. These three points represent wisdom, faith, and chivalry. These three points, however, do have Christian meaning: that of the trinity. If you count all the points, you come to the number twelve: that of the Apostles.
I hope this helps the creative sparks as you plan to make a new stole for the upcoming festival Sunday. For busy hands, making a red or white stole in a few short weeks should be an easy task. Good luck and please share these ideas with your friends.
Soli Deo Gloria
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