Benedict XVI’s Pentecost Sunday: again a lesson through vestments

Papa was once again in the taglio filipino vestments for the Holy Mass in the Basilica this morning.

What in Italian is called the "taglio filipino" is so named after St. Philip Neri, who is depicted in paintings in this type of vestments. 

This is the style of vestment in use around the time of the Council of Trent, worn by figures such as St. Ignatius of Loyola. 

It is emblematic of a age in the Church’s life, a period of Counter-Reformation, when there was an explosion of lay confraternities seeing to spiritual and corporal works of mercy at every level of society, simply and noble.  It is a period of tremendous deepening of our understanding of the Blessed Sacrament and subsequent development of devotions, such as Exposition, Benediction, and increase in observance of 40 Hours, devotion to the Sacred Heart.   This was an era of change in architecture, when the Roman baroque came into its own as an outward, concrete, plastic expression of the Church’s own self-understanding, her ecclesiology. 

It was a time when the humanities were in harmony with theology.

This style of vestment is the first stage of development between the fuller "cloak" style chasuble of the Medieval period and the later Roman vestment, which is smaller and more squared in the back and front.  for example, not only is the "Philip" style longer in front and back, and curved at the bottom, but it also comes farther down the shouders than the modern Roman vestment. 

 

Thus it is a concrete symbol of continuity between two great Catholic eras.

WDTPRS has asserted again and again that Papa Ratzinger is saying something through his vestments.  He mixes them up a bit, but he keeps coming back to this important taglio filipino.  Some will try to brush this off, or relegate his choice to a matter of mere personal taste.

I say that the very vestment is an icon of what Benedict is proposing: a hermeneutic of reform rather than of rupture.  Benedict is signaling the great value of the period of the style vestment as well as the fact that it is a harmonious bridge between two fantastic periods of Catholicity.  Benedict is healing the rupture that occurred in liturgy in many ways, with Summorum Pontificum, certainly, but also in the accoutrement of celebration, such as the placement of candles and the altar Cross. 

The other day the Pope’s MC, Msgr. Guido Marini, gave an interview to Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale.  In that interview he said:

"The vestments chosen, as also other particulars of the Rite," the Master of Ceremonies explained, "are intended to underscore the continuity of the present liturgical celebration with that which characterized in the past the life of the Church.  Continuity is the interpretive key, always the exact criteria for reading the Church’s journey through time.  This is valid also for liturgy."  "As one Pope cites in his documents the Pontiffs who preceed him, so as to indicate the continutiy of the Magisterium of the Church," Marini continues, "so in the ambient of liturgy a Pope uses also the vestments and sacred accoutrement of his precedessors to show the same continuity also in his celebratations. …

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19 Responses to Benedict XVI’s Pentecost Sunday: again a lesson through vestments

  1. Fr Ray Blake says:

    …and interestingly said,
    “The “Roman” character of the Church is therefore another sign of catholicity and universality: “the journey of the word of God, begun in Jerusalem, reaches its destination, because Rome represents the entire world and thus embodies the Lucan idea of catholicity. The universal Church is realised, the Catholic Church”.
    The vestments are a sign of “catholicity and universality”.

  2. M. says:

    What lovely vestments and they really leave us in no doubt that he is wearing his bishop’s dalmatic. Continuity in action.

  3. I agree with you Father and I wrote an article about it for “Rorate Caeli” which I think you might have seen.

    Michael Sternbeck.

  4. Michael Sternbeck: If you would be so kind, post the link so that I can look at it.

    GMTA, after all.

  5. I’d be very open to getting vestments like the one the Holy Father is wearing; I’m gathering the Saint Bede Studio is letting us know they will make them (but didn’t see a picture of a new one at the site); any other suggestions on where to get such a vestment?

  6. Dear Father Fox and other readers,

    The purpose of my comment was to mention an article I wrote on the history of the chasuble, not to advertise my products.

    But yes, I do make vestments in this style. Scroll down on the blog page to see an example “Vestments of the 16th century”.

    Thank you,
    MS.

  7. PNP, OP says:

    …and let’s not forget that St Philip Neri is considered the Second Apostle of Rome, the Saint of Joy, and the scourge of all religiously pretentious churchmen! Sounds just a little like our current Holy Father, uh? Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  8. Joy says:

    Just beautiful, and I love it that I have two saints!

  9. Theodorus says:

    While the chasuble is beautiful, but the type of pallium our Holy Father is wearing does not look good on Roman style chasuble. The equally ancient symmetrical type of long pallium probably might be a better choice for Roman style chasubles. Also I heard our Holy Father tripped and fell on his knees during the ceremony, frankly, I think using some knee protectors is not a bad idea.

  10. Cerimoniere says:

    I’m sure fr. Philip Neri is also aware of S. Philip’s strong connections with his own Order, to which be both owed and gave much.

    While this is pure wishful thinking on my part, and I have no reason to attribute any such intention to the Holy Father, I would also like to think that this choice of vestments may also serve to draw attention to S. Philip’s charism, and consequently that of the Congregation he established.

  11. Cerimoniere says:

    I’m sure fr. Philip Neri is also aware of S. Philip’s strong connections with his own Order, to which he both owed and gave much.

    While this is pure wishful thinking on my part, and I have no reason to attribute any such intention to the Holy Father, I would also like to think that this choice of vestments may also serve to draw attention to S. Philip’s charism, and consequently that of the Congregation he established.

  12. Tom says:

    Someday the Holy Father may offer the ultimate lesson: Offering the Traditional Latin Mass publicly…and frequently.

    The Holy Father’s liturgical message is mixed….relatively “traditional” Novus Ordo Mass to the variety offered a few weeks ago at Nationals Stadium.

    Pax.

  13. Fr.Fox,You can obtain simikar vestments fom the people who make them for the Holy Father-Tridentinum.Their website is amazing-tridentinum.com.I purchase vestments from them.I got a purple silk velvet set made in the Borromean fashion and hope to purchase a rose cope and a white conical set(designed for the usus antiquior.)

  14. TNCath says:

    I must agree with Theodorus in an earlier post: the new (old) pallium doesn’t work well with this style of chasuble. This style of pallium tends to dominate the chasuble too much.

  15. Tom says:

    The history of this Pontificate is written in tailors’ bills. Not for a moment do I dismiss the profoundity of the symbolism. However, I question the impact upon the errant.

    The last few Pontificates were printers’ Pontificates, this the tailors’ Pontificate (and we all thought that the reign of Pius X was the ‘tailor’s Pontificate’) but has any of them had a really profound effect upon the individual souls that they ‘governed’?

    While the Church burns, the Vatican stitches!

  16. RBrown says:

    The history of this Pontificate is written in tailors’ bills. Not for a moment do I dismiss the profoundity of the symbolism. However, I question the impact upon the errant.

    Generally, it’s the Roman way to begin with symbolic, small gestures and statements (“turning toward the Lord”) to make the soil ready for the planting.

    The liturgy in the Church has been a mess for 40 years. It’s going to take a while to reform it.

    The last few Pontificates were printers’ Pontificates, this the tailors’ Pontificate (and we all thought that the reign of Pius X was the ‘tailor’s Pontificate’) but has any of them had a really profound effect upon the individual souls that they ‘governed’?
    Comment by Tom

    Agree about JPII but not about Paul VI. After Humanae Vitae in 1968, PVI never promulgated another Encyclical.

  17. Tim Ferguson says:

    I would argue that the “tailors’ bills” of this pontificate bear greater fruit than the publishers’ bills of the last couple of pontificates, simply because – in this media age wherein people are inundated with constant communication, pictures are more widely accessible than words. The media obviously loves the sartorial turns of Pope Benedict, even if they sometimes come merely to scoff. The final product is more pictures.

    For the intellectuals and the pseudo-intellectuals, the pictures occasion the “What does he mean by this” discussion. The inevitable conclusion is what he announced in 2005 as the major point of his pontificate, reinforcing a hermeneutic of continuity.

    For the simple folk like me, the pictures clearly show a grounding in tradition, and a thirst for beauty, which, in itself, is a thirst for the divine.

    The “tailors’ bills” (which I don’t think anyone of us knows quantitatively) are also a sign of support for craftsmen in service of the Church – a category that, like professional musicians and artists, has gone largely unheralded for the past several decades. Church patronage of the arts – from music, architecture, painting, sculpting, and fabric and metalwork is a vital part of our tradition – not just some mere “extra” that we can discard in puritanical fervor.

    I recall the great Msgr. Schuler relating his discussion with the Conrad Schmidt studios who carried out the beautiful restoration of St. Agnes in St. Paul in the 80′s and 90′s. Monsignor told the gentlemen that he wanted to renovate the church and there was an inaudible sigh among the architects – expecting that, once again, their talents would be used to wreckovate a church interior. When he explained that, no, he wanted to add to the beauty of the church – to, in effect, complete the church as the original workmen would have done had the parish not run out of money. He said that the relief and the joy was palpable – finally they would be able to use their skills to make a thing of beauty.

    I’m sure the tailors who are making the wonderful vestments Benedict is using (and do you truly think that these vestments cost more than the bizarre vestments Piero Marini trotted John Paul out in on every occasion?) are absolutely delighted to be able to use their skills in the serivce of the Church and for the glory of God.

    Let there be increase!

  18. Tridentinum says:

    As you may read in your post of March, that vestment was made for Palm Sunday.
    The anticipation on an Italian newspaper created some problems and the use of that vestment has been delayed. Now you may finally see it, and I hope you like its style.

    Please note that the shape of the chasuble of Ash Wednesday and the one of Pentecost is the same: and is exactly taken from a chasuble of St. Charles Borromeo in a church of Bologna (Italy).

    As for the “tailor bills”, I suggest to consider the high quality of exclusive silk fabrics, gold gallons, handmade embroideries and professional making, especially respect to other products made with syntethic materials and poor quality. (Cicero pro domo sua)

    Thanks to Fr. McAfee for his appreciation! :))