The Pope’s WYD vestment – wonderful!

A big WDTPRS biretta tip   o{]:¬)    to Shouts for directing me to the blog of St Bede’s Studio which is all about vestments… and such vestments.

St Bede’s made the vestments for the Holy Father’s Mass in Sydney.  Remember that the old design for WYD was squashed… at least for the Pope so far.  Fr. S of Shouts has a comment below.  Check it out.

Let’s turn to what St Bede’s made for the Holy Father’s WYD Mass.

NB: in the designs below, the big stole-like palium is depicted.  The Holy Father changed that design in June.

Vestments for His Holiness Benedict XVI


In March, the Saint Bede Studio was contacted by the Archdiocese of Sydney with a request to submit designs for sets of vestments for the Papal Mass in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, Saturday, 19th July. Designs were prepared for vestments decorated in three different styles: the Gothic Revival; Carolingian; and according to the traditions of Rome. These designs were then submitted by the Archdiocese of Sydney to the Prefect of Pontifical Ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, who selected the design for vestments ornamented in the Roman style.

A chasuble and stole, Pontifical dalmatic and mitre were to be prepared for the Pope’s use, in addition to the three dalmatics for the deacons assisting the Pope at the Mass.

In preparing the design, certain considerations were paramount. Firstly, that the vestments be beautiful and dignified, as is fitting for vestments used by His Holiness. Secondly, that the vestments be convenient for the use of His Holiness. Lastly, that the vestments be visually related to Roman traditions for ornamenting sacred vestments.

The design for the chasuble is inspired by a 16th century Saragossan painting of Saint Martin of Tours. But the semi-conical shape of that chasuble was changed to accord more with the shape and dimensions set down in the same century by Saint Charles Borromeo.

The fabric for these vestments is the magnificent silver and gold "Edwardine" silk damask which is figured in the Italianate style of 18th century. The front of the chasuble is decorated with the “tau”: an ornament in continual use in Rome for almost 1000 years. The ornament of the chasuble, Pontifical dalmatic and dalmatics of the three deacons is in yellow "Lovebirds" silk damask, trimmed with a 2cm wide qautrefoil braid of red and gold, especially designed by the Saint Bede Studio. All the vestments are lined in crimson-red silk and bear the Papal coat of arms.

The mitre is made from cloth gold upon which is embroidered mediaeval scrollwork in gold, silver and crimson thread. These embroideries are derived from the historic mitre of Saint Thomas Becket (12th century) kept at the Sens Cathedral. The lappets of this mitre are also embroidered with scrollwork and bear the Papal coat of arms. The embroidery of the mitre was carried out splendidly by Fullerton Design Embroidery (Lithgow NSW).  [NB: The Pope’s coat-or-arms has the tiara and not a mitre!]

Attached images shew the original design submitted to the Holy See; the individual Papal vestments; the mitre of Saint Thomas Becket and a reproduction of the painting of Saint Martin of Tours, upon which the vestments were based.

The Saint Bede Studio has regarded it as the most tremendous privilege to make these vestments and has given of its best to produce something worthy. It was a project with its ups and downs but, protected by the Divine Hand, it was possible to bring it to a happy conclusion. But there were also human agents whose generous assistance I gratefully acknowledge: Fr Don Richardson, Sydney Archdiocesan Prefect of Ceremonies; Mrs Louise Thygesen (Canberra), Mrs Helen McLoughlin (Maitland), Mrs Barbara Little & Mrs Kyoko Peacock (Newcastle) and Mrs Sandy Fullerton (Lithgow) whose practical support enabled this project to be completed in time for the Papal visit.

Ut in omnibus Deus glorificetur!



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr. Guy says:

    Just to be clear, these vestments were commissioned for the papal mass on Saturday at the cathedral. I do not know what the Pope will wear for the big closing mass on Sunday. The red WYD vestments depicted are in fact being used. They were worn by the concelebrants at the opening mass with Cardinal Pell. They may be used again Sunday.

  2. Fr. Guy: Thanks for that clarification.

    I wonder if there is a pattern here. In NYC the Mass in St. Patrick’s was notably in a different style.

  3. Royce says:

    The picture of the stole tied around the waist reminds me about something I’ve been wondering for a while:

    Is there anything in the rubrics of the Novus Ordo to prevent crossing the stole and tying it in the traditional manner?

  4. Pater, OSB says:

    Note that they use the papal tiara on the coat of arms not the mitre.

  5. Royce,

    The crossed stole is used by priests in the older rite; anyone with a pectoral cross wears it on the breast in not crossed.

  6. Corboy says:

    Nice work, St. Bedes :)

  7. Tobias says:

    I don’t think that the Southern Cross design was so bad. Some objected that
    it is a national symbol. Yet it is also a constellation, with five stars.
    The placement of the five stars suggests the Five Wounds of Christ, as the
    fifth star is approximately where the Wound in the Side would be if we imagine
    a corpus suspended on the cross. When the fleur-de-lis is used in vestments
    or elsewhere, we don’t hear much complaining about the fact that it was a
    symbol of the French monarchy. The Southern Cross likewise signifies more
    than just the nation of Australia.

  8. Mary Rose says:

    Okay, I’m going to give this question a third shot. I’ve posted it at Catholic Answers and didn’t receive a response.

    Why are vestments so important? I know they are, but I’m just not sure why. Some people think vestments are excessive. How did they develop? Did the first Apostles wear anything similar?

    As always, I’m full of questions… Mega-blessings to whoever may have any input or resource recommendations!

  9. Mary Rose, this might answer a few questions. Hope it helps.
    Vestments, Symbols of Service

  10. Coletta says:

    Father, thank you for sharing this. These are gorgeous!

  11. Padre Steve says:

    This is great that you are able to find all of this! I learn a lot at this site! God bless!

  12. Todd says:

    Thanks SemperFi….exactly what’s in my ’42 Missal. I’m assuming this is missing now?

  13. Royce says:

    Yes I’m aware that it’s used by priests in the older rite, but I’m wondering if there is anything to prevent its use in the new as well.

    Also, do the old rubrics specifically call for the looped ties on the stole? I likewise see little reason to not do this in the new rite.

  14. Brendan says:

    What is a Pontifical Dalmatic? Who wears that if the Pope will be wearing a chasuble?

  15. pdt says:

    Looking at the original design samples next to the final vestments I am struck at just how much more worthy, dignified, and Papal the final set truly is. I’m thankful that God has blessed people with the talents to create such beauty from what to me would be a pile of thread. And that those people have accepted it as their vocation.

  16. Flabellum says:

    The pontifical dalmatic is worn by any bishop under the chasuble. It is therefore made lighter and much more simply decorated. In the EF a bishop may also wear a pontifical tunicle under the pontifical dalmatic. It symbolises the plenitude of order exercised by a bishop.

  17. Diane says:

    After 40 years of polyester simplicity (and in some cases lunacy), it is so refreshing to see vestments so dignified.

    An appetite for these styles is being born in the youth who are experiencing it for the first time. The generation developing this taste for reverential dignity will also be fueling the comeback of traditional decorum.

  18. Padre Steve says:

    Those are wonderful vestments! Thanks for sharing this!

  19. Fr. A says:

    Father Guy points out something very intersting in the article on his blog. He notes the following, referring to the coat of arms on the mitre and back of the chasuable:

    “If you look closely you’ll see that, once again as has been happening with greater frequency of late, the coat of arms is topped not with a mitre but with the more traditional symbol of the papacy, the tiara. This was submitted and approved by the Pope. So, the display of the papal arms with the tiara clearly receives no disapproval from His Holiness. Those who thought the tiara was ‘gone for good’ are clearly wrong.”

  20. Mary Rose says:

    semperficatholic, thank you! That was a very interesting explanation. I do wonder if most priests pray those prayers as they vest for Mass. From what I’ve been observing, the sacristy is often a place of chaos before Mass; not a place for thoughtful prayer. But I could be mistaken.

    Diane, I really like what you said about dignity. I believe the priest can be dignified with proper vestments without it being translated as “excessive.” It sort of reminds me of the whole “casual Friday” policy at many workplaces. Some employees abused the privilege of wearing “casual” work clothes by arriving at work with attire more appropriate for a beach picnic (or worse, the bedroom).

    Some companies are rescinding this policy and requiring their employees to wear more business-like clothing. A co-worker long ago told me she didn’t like “Casual Fridays” because she thought casual attire created a more casual attitude toward work.

    Could the same principle be at work with the vestments? I can see it.

  21. Paul says:


    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2000 ed.) no. 340 states that “The stole is worn by the priest around his neck and hanging down in front,” so it seems that using the older crossed-ends arrangement is not an option.

    As for the 1962 Missale Romanum, it instructs the priest to tie the crossed ends of the stole in place with the cincture: “Sicque utramque partem stolae extremitatibus cinguli hinc inde ipsi cingulo coniungit.” (Ritus Servandus in Celebratione Missae, no. I.3)

    In the post-Conciliar liturgy the practise of tying down the stole is no longer necessary, but I find that it is nonetheless a good way of ensuring that the ends of the stole remain even with each other. It is also a nice little way of suggesting the liturgical continuity between the two forms of the Mass.

  22. Oliver says:

    Pure posturing. Ratzinger likes to give the impression (which people here swallow in great gulps)that playing around in his wardrobe for yesterday’s styles indicates a return to pre-conciliar days. Now only do his policies indicate the adoption of modern secularism as his guide and partner, he seems so eager to partake clownishly in its cultural vulgarities. The institution he claims to lead sinks further and further in the mire and exacts justifiable ridicule from many discerning quarters. Only the superficial, the naive and the opportunist have praise for him.

    [As HE suggests, below, this fellow deserves special notice for his bitter whine. How about this? – Fr. Z]

    The WDTPRS Bitter Fruit Award

  23. bryan says:

    two observations:

    There are a lot of folks who think they are more Catholic than the pope.
    It’s sad that the good cardinals in conclave didn’t know there were so many
    other potential, so expert and righteous candidates to choose from when they made their selection
    of this humble, gentle man, that isn’t moving as fast as these self-appointed
    experts in all things Catholic. Sorry, there’s always next time.

    Second…beautiful vestments, most befitting of this Pontiff. May he reign for
    many years to come. St. Bede’s has produced some wonderful articles that will
    grace the Holy Father down under.

  24. SARK says:

    Dear Oliver,

    I wouldn’t put it quite like that!! But for sure we have to look past the wonderful vestments (and they are gorgeous).

    The suggestion that our Holy Father is really JPII with better taste and a good tailor will not go away until (i) he clearly sets out the way he will address the fall-out from VII and correct the doctrinal errors in the popular interpretation of its documents and (ii) appoints Catholic rather than neo-modernist Bishops to implement the “reform of the reform”.


  25. Jrbrown says:

    Nota bene: it is advised to ignore the comments of those who refer to the Holy Father’s offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass in traditonal vestments as ‘playing around’ in old clothes. Our Holy Father is the chief priest of the Catholic Church and, as such, when he offers Mass he is to be given SPECIAL reverence and honor, and not special dishonor.

  26. Almost makes me wonder whether WDTPRS could use a Bitter Fruit Award — for those who exceed the more modest requirements for a Sour Grapes Award.

  27. SARK says:

    Dear Jrbrown and Henry Edwards

    With respect, it is not disrespectful to raise questions about the Pope’s vision or programme (so long as it is done respectfully), nor is it sour grapes to highlight the POTENTIAL gap between style and substance in the current pontificate. There may be no gap of course – but we simply don’t know enough about Benoit XVI’s plans to say for sure. Who he appoints as the new Archbishop of Westminster will perhaps tell us much.


  28. Henry: I think I will have to work on that WDTPRS Bitter Fruit Award. In the meantime, I applied the WDTPRS Cry Baby Badge.

    UPDATE: I originally applied the Cry Baby Badge, but I worked up a Bitter Fruit Award.

    Thanks for the suggstion.

  29. Jrbrown says:

    SARK: I will grant you all of that, and yes it is very important what other substantive measures our Holy Father takes during this criticial period of history in the Church. The appointments he makes will very likely outlast his pontificate and will have a very lasting impact. That said, I again would note that very clearly he HAS done something substantive in the area of liturgy and that, regardless, as the chief priest and Vicar of Our Lord one should never refer to his liturgical actions as ‘playing around’, as if the Holy Father is offering invalid Sacraments and committing sacrilege.

  30. The vestments are beautiful But I would add a monitum.I ordered a similar set of vesments from St.Bedes last year and it was met with delay after delay.I had a stroke in late May and then I was notified by the company that they were cancelling my order.I would not reccomnend them.If you want more infromation contact me at St.John the Beloved McLean Va.

  31. TJM says:

    Father McAfee, I noticed your monitum was deleted at the NLM. Is St. Bede’s an advertiser of that site? Regards, Tom

  32. Jackie says:

    I actually like the red vestments. They are a big step up from the WYD I went to in Toronto (’02). It also has to be remembered these vestments have to be massed produced so detailing has to be kept to a minimum. But all in all I think they are nice. (Although I love the Pope’s a great deal more).

  33. Diane says:

    Fr. Z – The bitter fruit picture was perfectly suited! I like it, especially for the application used.

    Fr. McAfee, how nice to see you commenting. I have not had time to go through comboxes of late, but this is the first time I have noticed. I do hope all is well with you.

  34. Finally! Proper vestments that aren’t a half-century old (not that those aren’t awesome as well). I can’t wait to see pictures of Pope Benedict wearing these.

  35. I was the one who deleted Fr. McAfee’s comment; this was something I did on my own initiative and
    and was not an NLM policy of some sort. I wrote to him explaining why I deleted it, and he explained to
    me the details of his concern, which seems legitimate, if unfortunate.

    Let me assure you this is not because St Bede’s advertise on the site (several very fine companies do,
    including Tridentinum) but because, while Fr. McAfee’s concerns are quite legitimate, I did not want others
    to latch onto them as an opportunity to debate private concerns, either pro- or con- regarding the
    consumer service issues of St. Bede’s work.

    There is no way I could check the details of such disputes myself, being an uninterested third party.
    I’d probably have done it with regards to any small business, whether or not they advertised on our site.

    Less scrupulous individuals than Fr. McAfee, who does stellar work as a parish priest and a lover of tradition, have in the past used the NLM combox as a platform to advance ad-hominem attacks on various individuals, and so tend to make me a little nervous about public criticisms of any sort. Fr. M’s comment is very, very minor in comparison to these but such things can reeeally snowball at times.

    What Fr. Z does here is, of course, his own concern, and not being
    a strictly liturgical website, such criticisms are likely to have “less” of an official quality [? When did NLM start speaking “officially” on liturgical matters? o{]:¬) ] to them
    (NLM is not a better business bureau), so I don’t object to any such criticism here. [Whew!]

    If Fr. McAfee feels strongly enough about this, and to reassure our readers that we are impartial, I
    invite him to re-post his comment, even if I am not sure it is appropriate in the NLM context.

  36. Matt Q says:

    SARK wrote:

    “The suggestion that our Holy Father is really JPII with better taste and a good tailor will not go away until (i) he clearly sets out the way he will address the fall-out from VII and correct the doctrinal errors in the popular interpretation of its documents and (ii) appoints Catholic rather than neo-modernist Bishops to implement the “reform of the reform.”


    This is true. In many ways it seems the Holy Father talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. We’re very grateful for Summorum Pontificum but now, what of it? “Well, it’s out. If they do, they do. They don’t, they don’t?” Is that it?

    What more is he doing about reforming the Novus Ordo? I read just the other day, he has submitted to the CDW a couple of points for research, that being moving the Sign of Peace to a place earlier in the Mass, and saying the prayer of Consecration in Latin. That sounds great but what else and where would it really go?

    Further, at an event like WYD which is actually Vatican-sponsored, one would think the Vatican would have greater control over its content and presentation. As we see though, year after year, WYD is as silly as it ever is.

    [Hmmm…. perhaps the writer should spend a little more time listening to what the Pope is saying down under?]

    The WDTPRS Sour Grapes Award


    JrBrown wrote:

    “Nota bene: it is advised to ignore the comments of those who refer to the Holy Father’s offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass in traditonal vestments as ‘playing around’ in old clothes. Our Holy Father is the chief priest of the Catholic Church and, as such, when he offers Mass he is to be given SPECIAL reverence and honor, and not special dishonor.”


    Criticism wasn’t leveled at the Holy Father saying Mass in the vestments he wears, but the fact is that’s all it is. The Holy Father is good at presentation, and it’s nice to see, however, it doesn’t translate itself into rest of the Church and without any substance behind it, it never will. That’s the difference. That’s what the criticisms are.

  37. Rob F. says:

    Paul said, “… it seems that using the older crossed-ends arrangement is not an option.”


    “340. Stola defertur a sacerdote circa collum et ante pectus pendens”

    I’m not so sure that “pendens” precludes crossing the stole. A stickler might even argue that “circa collum” requires that the stole be crossed. ;)

  38. TNCath says:

    Very nice vestments for the Holy Father. The red vestments with the Southern Cross on them aren’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but they are simply not in keeping with the hermeneutic of continuity Pope Benedict is striving to keep.

  39. Sorry. I phrased that badly, re “officially.” It’s just, as there are several persons on the NLM weblog, I don’t want to make it sound as if one of us speaks for all of us; we’re not a committee. Fr. Z, being just one person, has a little more freedom here!

  40. Fr. Marie-Paul says:

    “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

    BTW, “Ratzinger” no longer exists. He is POPE BENEDICT XVI. Oliver sounds like the typical sedevacantist trad.

  41. JDF says:

    What vain, completely irrelevant to the Gospel trivia, minimizing priestly service!

  42. TJM says:

    Matthew of the Holy Whapping. I thought only the sponsor of the website could delete comments. Are you a co-sponsor now? I’ve seen far more
    aggregious comments posted there and many other places but they are rarely censored. I’m a bit uncomfortable with that approach. Tom

  43. TJM–all the writers are empowered to delete comments. We are pursuing a more vigorous comments policy
    and will be deleting those more egregious comments (some of which were truly outrageous) in the future as they were
    taking away from the quality of the discussion. I admit
    this wasn’t one of those kind (and it was pretty reasonable) and am now regretting somewhat having deleted it.

    That being said, I think this policy is necessary due to other combox discussions tha. I am sorry if it makes you
    uncomfortable, but I think it will avoid extraneous debates about issues that have been beaten to death already
    (lace/no lace, egregious or schismatic anti-NO comments, sour grapes),
    or comments which are simply inflammatory. It is no worse than what Mark Shea does. Once again, Fr. McAfee’s comment is not one of those. I don’t think any of your comments will be deleted, Tom!

  44. Rob F. says:

    JDF said, “What vain, completely irrelevant to the Gospel trivia, minimizing priestly service!”

    And yet important enough for you to comment on. And if it’s important enough for you to comment on, perhaps it is important enough for some of us others to comment on as well.

  45. TJM says:

    Matthew of the Holy Whapping, I hope not, although sometimes I get carried away myself, particularly when the subject
    is Trautman! Anyway, thanks for the explanation. Regards, Tom

  46. craig says:

    Very nice work. Looking at the drawings, though, I sure wish Benedict had kept the ancient-style pallium. The horse collar style is ugly and needed to be dropped.

  47. Mitch says:

    I too think the vestments are superb and the detail is so refreshing after the years of tablecloth dressings. This post seems to reflect so much people’s impatience with the process of reform and return. It is indeed a painful journey that could and should have been avoided. But let’s not pin it all on the Pope, he is doing his best with the guidance of Christ. It is perhaps the disobedience of others, including clergy that sometimes make his efforts appear fruitless. I myself have been guilty of giving in to these thoughts but the answer is to pray. And think twice about the way we express something out there and the real reasons why. Take the vestments for what they are. A marked improvement..As for Latin consecration etc. just pray for it. The Pope is taking us in the right direction and the vestments are an indicator.

  48. Maureen says:

    Re: “What vain, completely irrelevant to the Gospel trivia”

    I seem to remember that the Gospel has a lot in it about robes, and Jesus wearing them: swaddling clothes, transfigured robes, robes woven in a single piece, robes of Roman purple/crimson…. If you add in the rest of the OT and NT references to Christ and God, there’s a lot more references to what He’s wearing.

    Furthermore, God at various times and places went to a lot of trouble to tell people what to wear, particularly the temple priests. :)

  49. David O'Rourke says:

    Frankly I have seen better both in fiddleback and in gothic-revival styles in the pre-conciliar Church. I don’t say this to complain. These are miles above what we he been used to but lets’s not rest on st. Bede’s laurels. Let’s see this as the beginning.

  50. Louise says:

    For those who liked the vestments, “Inside the Vatican” Magazine reported that the Holy Father was “delighted” with the vestments and asked that they be taken back to the Vatican.

  51. Widukind says:

    Reading through the earlier comments I was struck by the contrast of a “pre-conciliar” and a “conciliar” or “post-conciliar” Church. I thought there was one Church, and a living one at that. “Going back” does not seem like a positive option to me. But rather, we need a positive “going forward”. This going forward, or growing (organically) should be quite radical [getting to the root – radix – of things, and making a full circle – radius – to it]. This “going forward” will then be much more than “going back”, as it would be a return to fullness. In a garment with wrinkles, it usually takes more than one ironing to remove them.

  52. RBrown says:

    Frankly I have seen better both in fiddleback and in gothic-revival styles in the pre-conciliar Church.
    Comment by David O’Rourke

    Do you know whether one of those styles was often prohibited before VatII?

  53. I would like to thank Father Zuhlsdorf for posting this article about my vestments and all readers who have commented so kindly.

    It was a tremendous privilege for me to be asked to make these vestments and the thrill of a lifetime to watch His Holiness emerge from his vesting sacristy clad in the vestments I had made.

    Because of various complications, I was given very little time to make the Papal vestments and a strict secrecy was imposed upon me, which was only relaxed at the last minute. Unfortunately my work for other clients suffered. One of these was Fr McAfee, whose “monitum” above you might have read.

    There are two sides to every story and Father McAfee is just as entitled to his good name as I am to mine.

    I invite anyone who, having been concerned by Father McAfee’s “monitum”, is reluctant to engage my services, to write to ME also and I will supply the names of clients who can be contacted to testify to my integrity as well as the quality of my work and service. These clients include officials of the Archdiocese of Sydney, as well as those in the United States.

    Thank you,

    Michael Sternbeck

  54. Post scriptum.

    I can confirm that so pleased were His Holiness and the Papal Masters of Ceremonies with the vestments that they decided to take ALL the vestments and the mitre back to Rome.

    A tremendous and unexpected privilege for me.

  55. Saint Bede Studio: I, for one, am terribly impressed by your vestments.

    I very much wish I could order a set for myself.

    Surely in the spirit of Christian charity, now that more facts are known, slowly but surely everything can be put to right.

    I am also sure that, given the circumstances, and the explanations, everyone will understand why there may have been a problem with ordering and communication.

    Given the circumstances, that would be reasonable.

    Thank you for making such beautiful vestments for the Holy Father.

Comments are closed.