Here is a good practical question from a reader.
I have a question which you may well be able to answer, but that if you are too busy, I am pretty sure my fellow loyal readers of WDTPRS can.
What are the best practices for making the small linens for the altar?
I am good on the basics – what’s square and what’s rectangular, white color, and linen’s pride of place, but how much elaboration is good versus when it becomes a hindrance to proper purification. Where are the rules located? I haven’t found much at all. Recalling the wonderful pamphlet on the care of the linens, I am hoping for some guidance beyond common sense.
Good question. We do need the help of others for this. I have never made altar linens.
Here are some observations for my vantage of using them
First, keep them simple. Lots of elaboration, in my opinion, make them more difficult to use. There can be some embroidery around the edges of the corporal. Perhaps a very narrow band of lace or trim. The same for purificators, but only at the very ends. I would avoid doing (what ever it is called) that thing where you embroider around cut-out shapes. Pretty, but awkward to use. With a corporal I am always concerned that some particle will somehow fall through a hole.
Do make sure the fabric is absorbant, especially for the purificators. I have from time to time had to use nearly liquid resistant purificators. If a priest is diligent in purifying the chalice well, that’s pretty frustrating. I do like linen.
Altar cloths should ideally be long enough to reach close to the ground on either side of the altar. Remember that an altar really should have three cloths. The two beneath don’t have to reach the the ground, but they should cover the top. If you have an altar ad orientem and there are some contraptions designed to hold the altar cloths in place, you might think about reinforcing that side of the altar cloth. Not necessary, but it could be helpful.
This is a bit picky, but when making purificators you might consider the width of the chalice(s) for which you are making them so that they fit nicely across the top.
Here is a shot of how a corporal is sown up. This is one I am using now. It was made in Italy.
Keep purificators simple. Check the height of the chalice and the width of the cup.
Remember that altar cloths are sometimes held down by gizmos.
Palls can have some fancy work. I don’t prefer it, but I do use it from time to time. They are often made like a little flat bag or envelope in which you insert a stiff card. I HATE the Italian style pall, which is just a piece of starched cloth.
And the back.
Maybe the reader with experience can chime in.