In Remembrance: Urn Palls for use at Funerals

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Urn Palls for use at Funerals

Urn Palls for use at Funerals: It has been a while since our last post – spring is flying by and summer is just around the corner. This spring has been eventful, as usual. 

Some of the eventful was anticipated and gave cause for rejoicing while other events were more somber in nature. We have had a few unexpected trips to visit ill family members and have had the loss of a dear grandfather a few short weeks ago. In the loss, there is always hope. And with the prayers and support of many we continue on with our daily vocations.

Memorial Weekend Tradition

As we relax this Memorial Weekend and spend time with family and friends, we also remember those who have fought and died defending our country, as well as family members and friends who have preceded us in death.  As a child, I remember our family tradition of visiting with relatives on Memorial Weekend. After our picnic, we would go to the cemetery at the local church and put flowers and wreaths on the graves of aunts and grandparents. We would also take the time to look at the headstones of the great-great-grandparents who came over from Germany in the Mid-1800s. There was Peter and Otto, and then my grandfather Henry. The names on many of the stones were all but worn away with wind, weather, and time.

When I make church vestments, I prefer to work in a quiet, contemplative space. It is a time to think and reflect. And tonight is no exception. The current project before me is one that naturally leads to reflective thoughts, just by the very nature of what the item is.

cutting fabric

The item before me is an Urn Pall.  For those not familiar with the Palls or their use, it is helpful to take a read from Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin’s Glossary of Ecclesiastical Ornament and Costume, Compiled from Ancient Authorities and Examples.


The Palls used for ecclesiastical purposes were of four kinds: 1 Pall for covering the bier and coffin at funerals, already described  2 Palls for extending over tombs* 3. Ornamental Palls, to hang in choirs on festivals, ………………. 4 Linen cloths to cover altars……………

The tradition within the church is to use a Pall to cover the coffin for funerals. At the time of Pugin (early to mid-1800s), Palls were elaborate items, often embellished with extensive embroidery and gold work. Palls are still used today to cover a coffin during a funeral service. They are frequently white in color with a cross or other appropriate design applied. While churches may own a Pall for covering a coffin, they may not have a pall for covering an urn. The use of urns to replace large coffins is becoming more common.

Urn Pall Designs

An urn pall can take on many forms of design. The  Urn Pall that has been recently on my work table is simple yet tasteful. It begins with a lovely brocade fabric. Suitable choices would be Fairford, Florence, and Litchfield brocades to name a few.  In this case, Cloister Brocade is the fabric being used. Cloister has nice all-over patterns that work well with the Urn Pall. For some churches, the use of white may be as a remembrance of baptism and the putting on of Christ’s Righteousness, while other churches may have slightly different beliefs and traditions.

Urn pall for funerals

Urn palls may be purchased ready-made. Or if someone within the church is handy with fabric, needle, and thread, they may wish to make an Urn Pall for use at funeral services.

Urn Palls are similar to chalice veils. They are usually square in shape.

making pall

They are often trimmed with a cross. This style has a cross formed by a narrow braid with a small cross applique located at the center.a narrow braid with a small cross applique located at the center.

The satin lining adds the finishing touch to the back side of the Urn Pall. Urn Palls typically measure around 26 inches square, accommodating the various shapes and sizes of Urns that they may use.

Urn pall for funerals

Preserving Tradition

The use of Palls as part of the funeral service is steeped in historical tradition. Often family members contact me for these items when the church does not have one available. If your church does not currently have a separate Urn Pall,  this may be an item to consider adding to the vestment inventory to have on hand when it is needed. As always, it is a good idea to check with your pastor, priest, elders, or altar guild handbook to ensure the correct use of Palls within your church body.  The white Urn Pall is a current style.

We also offer sewing patterns for both an urn pall and a Casket Funeral Pall Sewing Pattern.

Solli Deo Gloria

Funeral Vestments