REVIEW: Charbel Vestments: hand embroidered and beautiful

Quite often the UPS or FEDEX truck zips up the drive to leave wonderful treasures! 

Today, however, I had to go to the post office to collect a surprise.

Having returned to the Sabine Farm, I examined my mystery missive:

hmmm… from Singapore

With a card….

"Fr. Z, Pax et bonum.  I hope this letter finds you.  Please find in the parcel a Low Mass Set specially for you, as a gift from CharbelVestments…."

Here they are!

The vestments are silk and hand embroidered.

And… a view of the hand embroidery.

From the letter:

"My two friends, a very experienced vestment-maker and a skillful embroiderer, were appalled when I told them the prices of embroidered sets offered on certain websites.  We prayed about it and decided to make our own embroidered sets…. at affordable prices."

And you can click this one below to see a larger image.

I very much like these vestments.  

They are beautiful, with good materials, and well made.

They are certainly dignified.  They would cost far less than other embroidered vestments I have seen.  Far less.

These could be good for TLM communities getting their start as well as for parishes who want to present the Novus Ordo in continuity with our Roman Tradition.

Here is their website: charbelvestments.com  Please click over and look at the photos.

In the letter the writer, said that they are going to expand into solemn sets and perhaps also the taglio filipino, the style that Pope Benedict has used a few times (my favorite).   I very much hope they will also make solemn sets.

It strikes me that these folks have very good will, good skills, the right vision, a worthy project and, what is more, they seem truly to love the Church and her liturgy.

"Our dream is to have sacristies all over the world replenished with new embroidered pieces."

The only thing I think I regret about these vestments so far, is that I cannot change the color and use them every day.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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30 Responses to REVIEW: Charbel Vestments: hand embroidered and beautiful

  1. TJM says:

    Stunningly beautiful. Tom

  2. Jenny Z says:

    Wow Father, those vestments are so beautiful!

  3. Christopher Milton says:

    Absolutely magnificent!

    Questions:
    1.) What makes them “Low Mass” Vestments?
    2.) How would they differ from “High Mass” vestments?
    3.) Are these “Low Mass” vestments usable for any N.O. Mass?

  4. Christopher:

    Questions:
    1.) What makes them “Low Mass” Vestments?
    2.) How would they differ from “High Mass” vestments?
    3.) Are these “Low Mass” vestments usable for any N.O. Mass?

    Answers:
    1.) These are vestments for the priest, only.
    2.) For a High Mass you need also dalmatics (or dalmatic and tunic), humeral veil, etc.
    3.) They sure are!

  5. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Gorgeous. How wonderful to see something so beautifully made in this day and age.

  6. Jane says:

    They are beautifully embroidered.

  7. Dominican says:

    They are just lovely and the price is so good! We need new vestments but simply can’t afford the price that most places charge.

    Now only if they would make gothic style. Some of us just don’t like Roman! Sorry!

  8. Sigh. $2000. Not a bad price at all for the workmanship. But still out of a friar’s price range.

    A complete solemn set (with mappula, lecturn cover, etc.) in very nice style from a major decent provider was “only” $3,500 when we needed one a couple years ago. Any chance that Charbel can work up decent Low Mass sets in the $1000 range?

  9. Antiquarian says:

    Like Dominican, I generally prefer Gothic vestments– from a purely aesthetic standpoint. But beautiful vestments in any style are preferable to ugly vestments in any style, and these are mighty beautiful.

  10. Fr. Augustine: Perhaps you are suggesting a simpler version so that the price is lower?

  11. Scott says:

    Father,

    Beautiful, but I think this warrants a picture of them in use!

    pax!
    Scott

  12. Margaret says:

    Wow. Just wow. I’m always so impressed to see beautiful workmanship like that.

  13. Ann says:

    Have any of you thought to ASK the ladies of the local parishes if there are any who are known to be skillful in embroidery?

    Our parish has a set of decorations that come out at Christmas that began as a way for a parishioner to keep his mother from doing too much…..she called in friends and the beaded and embroidered decorations are lovely.

    I don’t see why a set of vestments would not be possible. Imperfect results could happen, but with the machine embroidery machines getting less expensive, it seems like a group of lay people who like to sew and embroider ought to be able to do something for their local priests!

  14. Ann says:

    Oh, and the vestments for Fr. Z are GORGEOUS!

  15. Jayna says:

    Just stunning. I literally gasped when I got to that third picture down. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to vestments like these (well, not just like those, that’s my priest, so I’m used to that style specifically), that when I see something like that, I am quite pleasantly taken aback at the craftsmanship.

  16. Fr. Augustine Thompson – Yes, we are working towards Low Mass Sets slighty pass US$1000 range. We are updating our website to include new designs. It should be up by tomorrow. Upon request we are also able to add embroidered shields.

    Dominican & Antiquarian – As worthy Gothic Vestments are currently available from Australia and the UK, we didn’t feel the need to produce Gothic Vestments. However, if you have a desired design (which would be costly to be produced in both countries), do send us the picture for a quotation. In the future we would also be looking at including the St Philip Neri and St Charles Borromeo cuts as well.

    Ann – Yes, it is good to involve pious church ladies and even skillful men in vestment-making. In our humble opinion however, the 3D effect produced hand embroidery is still of a higher quailty than machine embroidery.

  17. “Have any of you thought to ASK the ladies of the local parishes if there are any who are known to be skillful in embroidery?”

    That’s a pretty good idea… with one added thought… embroidery skill is probably more widespread than the skill and knowledge (patterns, etc.) to cut good vestments… So someone should sell kits that allow the pricey embroidery to be done by locals, but the rest (or at least the cutting) done by a vestment company.

  18. Warren says:

    Yes, beautiful. Praise be God Who inspires such beauty; blessed are the hands that made these vestments.

  19. Mark M says:

    Wonderful vestments, Father.

    (Now, this is off-topic, but I remembered when I saw the vestments…) I wanted to ask if it indeed you on the front of Trimeloni’s Liturgia Prattica?

  20. Beowulf says:

    “Have any of you thought to ASK the ladies of the local parishes if there are any who are known to be skillful in embroidery?”

    I would love to mount an exhibition of “Liturgical Arts of Women”, featuring embroidery, lace, starching, so much of that has been lost in the last 40 years.

  21. Philip says:

    They are stunning and as you say, very reasonably priced. I look forward to the day when the drip-dry numbers in my local sacristy are replaced with such fine vestments.

    Near to where I live, there is a small community of Anglican nuns (Sister of St Margaret, I think) who in years gone by, were responsible for some stunning vestments, banners, etc. They made a great many items for Sir Ninian Comper. Do orders of nuns still do this sort of thing?

  22. Thanks, Charbel, that is good news indeed.

  23. Judy Fradl says:

    As a vestment maker with many years experience I want to say that the vestments are beautigul and well done. I find it hard to believe with all the hand work that the set only costs $2000.00 Currently a nice brocade set without a lot of handwork $1000 or more.

    A low Mass set is a five piece set, chasuble,stole, maniple veil, burse for a priets private.
    For a high Mass set In addition to the low Mass set a cope is added to this for the Asperges on Sundays.
    For a Solemn High Set a cope,humeral veil, dalmatics and pieces are made to the five piece set.

    If anyone is interested I have an instructional CD on making traditionally style
    d vestments that I have used for teaching vestment making. If interested please contact me.

    Judy Fradl

  24. Christopher Milton says:

    Thanks for the answers to my first three questions. Now I have another:

    4.) Who “owns” the vestments used at a parish Mass, the priest, the parish?

  25. CM says:

    I also literally gasped when I saw the first photo of these vestments. They are truly breathtaking.

  26. Fr Z,

    That low Mass set is breath-taking! Charbel Vestments is doing a brilliant service to holy mother Church!!!

    I was in Singapore in June visiting my folks, and at a Latin NO Mass I celebrated there I met three sisters (siblings, not religious) who had sewn the Roman chasuble I’d worn at that Mass. So I commissioned them to make seven taglio filipino low Mass sets (red, green, purple, white, black, rose, and gold) for my priory here in England. I don’t know who was more excited, them or me. Those sisters must be, I reckon, the first makers of a taglio filipino in Singapore. But theirs, unlike Charbel’s, will not be hand-embroidered. Unfortunately the sisters don’t seem keen on taking on too much vestment-work. If they change their minds, I’ll let you know.

    I dare say (when the vestments reach me) my brother friar Lawrence Lew OP will post pics of them on Godzdogz or his space on Flickr.

  27. Crikey! Just checked my email, and I realised that I know the founder of Charbel Vestments! He was the MC at that Latin Mass I celebrated in Singapore. A thoroughly good chap! Their efforts must be an expression of the sensus fidelium. Bravo!

  28. Michael says:

    Wow, I hope one day we’ll be able to have some vestments like this in regular use at the Shrine of St. Joseph in Saint Louis, Missouri.

  29. Ricardo Aleixo says:

    Question: Who “owns” the vestments used at a parish Mass, the priest, the parish?

    Generlay speaking the Vestments would belong to the Parish.

    If parish funds are used to buy vestments, chalices, etc…they belong to that parish and should remain in the parish, but if the priest purchased it with his own private funds, they are his personal property.

    If vestments are given to the a parish as memorials or gifts, they too belong to the Parish/Sacristy Collections.

    All priest’s have their own alb and some/fewer priest’s may have their own vestments such as a stole, a chasuable or the chasuable they wore at their first Mass.

    As a Sacristan, I have never meet a priest who has his own complete set of vestments for a whole liturgical year. Usualy they have a white and green chasuable.

  30. Maureen says:

    What are the embroidered plants? I recognized grapes and wheat; what are the others? Acanthus or what?

    Gorgeous. Dignified is the word.