Now this is a puzzling vestment

I give credit to my friend Fr. Scofield of Roman Miscellany for having found this truly hideous vestment.


And again…

"But Father! But Father!" some of you might be momentarily tempted to object.  "Can’t you see? That’s a Roman vestment!  That is for the Extraordinary Use!  There’s a maniple and burse, too.  Everything!"

Maybe so… maybe so.  

But nothing could induce me to put that on, I don’t care what edition of the Missale Romanum is on the altar!

Can you imagine how awful the dalmatics would be? 

The cope?

The antependium?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    It may be hideous but it had a very important use at the time.

    If I am not mistaken, that set of vestments is at Maple Durham, and was made during the recusant period. It was deliberately made so, so that it always has the liturgical colours appropriate to the season, etc.

    There is another set, which I have not seen, that is made out of fine, fine silk, with no lining, and is so thin it could be folded up and placed inside secret compartments, etc.

    Fascinating, eh!?

  2. Mary Rose says:

    Personally, I’d get dizzy watching any priest celebrate the Mass with those stripes. Egads!

    And quite frankly, anything “rainbow-ish” reminds me of gay activists. They’ve worked hard to hijack a promise of God. Whenever I see a rainbow in the sky, I remember and praise God for it. But when I see anything that resembles a rainbow in clothing, I’m usually irritated.

  3. Michael C. says:

    A couple of things. First, we had the rainbow long before the gays hijacked it. Second, this is almost Biblical as in Joseph and his technicolor dream coat. Third, It does cover all the liturgical color bases except black, no funerals I guess. Clearly it is well made and has been carefully cared for, better than many of more customary color arrangements. Carefull Father, nothing and never are terms best left unused in the Church militant. We may yet be back in the catecombs or secret houses in which to celebrate the Eucharist.

  4. Geoffrey says:

    Perhaps these vestements were the last “old” vestements to be made in the 1960s, when abuses began to slowly creep in? ;-)

  5. Mark M says:

    Oh come on guys, take it for what it is! A product of persecution during the Protestant Reformation.

  6. a religious says:

    This is either a set from a time of Catholic persecution (English ?) or from a missionary (?). If from the former, then they should be venerated if not worn.

  7. Devin says:

    I shudder to think what sort of Mass was celebrated wearing those… yikes.

    Unless it is a missionary/persecuted Catholic vestment, in which case I feel bad for maligning it =D

  8. Jef says:

    there’s a big difference between the modern Technicolour things borne out of the 60’s.. or wherever, and these historical vestments borne out of necessity and oppression. the idea behind them is actually quite nice that a travelling priest would have the correct liturgical colour regardless of the feast. just as long as the “womenpriests” movement doesn’t try to tack this on to there notion of tradition as well we’ll be ok

  9. mitch says:

    I assume no pictures exist of any Priest wearing this. Too theatrical.

  10. John says:

    Well, Fr. Scofield does say that he saw the vestment in Piedmont, which is Italy.

  11. Fr Ray Blake says:

    Errr, I hate to admit it but I have worn a set of vestment like this, for a first Mass 24 years ago. They were from the seminary museum and used in England during Penal Times. The design of the fabric was a little more elegant I seem to remember. I suspect mine were circa 1800 when poverty of the Catholic Missions in English rather than direct persecutiom would have led to their production.

  12. jacobus says:

    I think that the red has faded into pink. When this set was made it was probably brighter and less pastel.

  13. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Don’t throw away those vestments, please. I need them as exhibits in my new Museum of Bad Taste.

    Peter Karl T. Perkins
    Victoria, Canada

  14. Jeff Pinyan says:

    It is red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach and ruby and olive and violet and fawn… (I did that from memory!)

  15. Geoffrey says:

    At least there’s a maniple!

    I could see these being used in penal times… all the liturgical colours are there!

    Wait a minute! Is that “liturgical” blue I see?!

  16. Gil Wright says:

    Fr (to acolyte): What colour am I wearing today?
    Acolyte: I can’t find the Ordo.
    Fr: Well get out the coat of many colours – guaranteed to match any season.

  17. Bill Flowerpot says:

    But nothing could induce me to put that on, I don’t care what edition of the Missale Romanum is on the altar!

    Remove the reference to the missal and altar and replace it with a designer label and hey presto you’ve got vain woman-speak. You could imagine Paris Hilton uttering such words to her stylist as she teeters about in her high heels in some expensive Italian boutique. Ugh. What a hideous parallel. Are “trad” priests just women who like to play dress up really?

  18. I have but one word to say about the vestments: EEK!

    Oh, sorry, several more:

    This definitely falls into the category of THERE ARE SOME THINGS MAN WAS NOT MEANT TO KNOW.

  19. So that’s what they looked like, the persecution vestments! I had read about them in novels by Mgr. Hugh Benson, but never seen any!

  20. Joe says:

    Surely this is what the Zouaves asked any priest-chaplains to vest in at mass during the Civil War.

  21. Johnny Domer says:

    I think Fr. Z’s point stands; even if they were worn during persecution times, they’re still really funky looking and ugly.

  22. Westsider says:

    It would be interesting to know the history of that vestment.

  23. OK everyone. I now have the inkling that I am being educated. I’m getting the sense that I have missed something important about these vestments and that someone needs to teach me some things.

    Clearly these old vestments were not the stuff of early hippies. That is why I called them “puzzling”.

    I don’t understand them.

    So if someone would really be able to teach us a few things, I would be grateful.

    There is more here than meets the aging hippie rainbow!

  24. So, is there never a provision, ever never, for the EF, that white suffices in case of necessity?

  25. Fr N says:

    Although they may resemble some recusant vestments, this particular set comes from the Italian Lakes and thus can’t be said to be the fruit of oppression!

    I’ve seen other C18 vestments which are stripey and very, er, colourful – I guess this was just a bizarre attempt at producing something ‘festal.’ Luckily, it’s not part of a High Mass set.

  26. Tecumseh says:

    Fr Z what you need to do is contact The Bar Convent the oldest convent in England. They have a museum with some vestments like this. They are exactly what Mark and Fr Blake say they are, vestments from the Penal days in England or Ireland. The explanation of the colours we were given is that if someone was ransacking or searching amongst clothing and other house hold goods the mixture of colours would make them look like rags, or maybe blankets made up from various bits of material, a kind of ecclesiastical camouflage

  27. Tecumseh says:

    The Bar Convent is in York, England.

  28. Tecumseh says:

    Buckfast Abbey have some unbelievable vestments. One I was shown had an embroidered “crucifix” which I think originated in Flanders, it had passed through many hands, how it missed getting destroyed in the reformation is probably a miracle in its self. Just because these vestments are in North Italy doesn’t mean that they didn’t originate in England. In fact there are allegedly valleys in the far North of Italy where I seem to recall, quite a few of the people have “Red” hair and Scottish names, descendants of people who escaped after Bonnie Prince Charlies 1745 uprising. There are also in Portugal, I think noble people, descendants of Catherine of Braganza, who also have Irish blood, descended from the flight of the Earls. One of the Irish clans “THE” O’Reilly, or “THE” O’Donovan, one of the Irish names is the head of the Braganza House and a Clan Chief in Ireland. I’m not exactly sure about all this, I did read about it somewhere a few years ago. So some of these guys could have taken these vestments to Italy.

  29. Besides being ugly, it smacks of the sin of (ahem) pride.

  30. josephus muris saliensis says:

    To repeat my post on Fr Schofield’s blog:

    One gets many similar garish vestments in France made of domestic fabrics and (moreso) ladies’ or men’s dress fabrics from that period, late 18th and early 19th century, often very fussy and colourful and, to our prudish liturgical eyes, inappropriate. A visit to the magnificent Silk Museum in Lyons has many good examples. There was a fashion dating from the middle ages for ladies of quality to give costumes, often wedding dresses (never white in those days) made of costly silks, to be made into vestments, and thus we have much surviving which would otherwise be lost. Similar things were made from men’s suits too, which were often of similar bright cloths. This particular example of Father Schofield’s could have been the clothing of either sex from this period (1760? I would guess).

    It is shame, however, if priests feel themselves unable to wear such treasures from time to time when they find them in the press – they are part of our cultural heritage!

  31. josephus muris saliensis says:

    I would add, in respect of the discussion about penal times in England, that in relation to such patterns, this is in part a mere coincidence of date, but also, of course, English ladies would give beautiful cloth already used as dresses for vestments for the mission.

  32. pseudomodo says:

    I was in England in the spring and had a tour of Westminster Abbey. In one of the aisles next to the choir there were several containers of vestements, each marked by the ‘theme’ of the decoration. Imagine my surprise (or maybe surprise is to strong a word for Westminster) to fine a container marked STARWARS COPE!!

  33. jcd says:

    Gaudette Sunday? Not enough rose or pink or just too gaudy?

  34. Doug Willis says:

    Uh – perhaps the case containing this particular “vestment” should be CLOSED and then “forgotten.”

  35. Michael J says:

    Michael C.:

    Yes, we had the rainbow “long before the gays hijacked it.”, but we also had the word “gay”, long before the gays hijacked it. See the point?

    For good or ill, the rainbow has come to symbolize support of homosexuality so it would be inappropriate, in my opinion, to uses these vestments today, regardless of how historical or “biblical” they may be.

  36. Rosie says:

    It is precisely BECAUSE evildoers have hijacked certain words that we should consciously and constantly use them in their proper sense. The original meanings are legitimate. The hijacked meanings are not. Never give in. Other than that….these vestments can be be locked away without my ever seeing them again and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings.

  37. Louis E. says:

    I agree with Rosie.Keep your old dictionaries!

  38. josephus muris saliensis says:

    I find it very disappointing that a vestment, bright, yes, but one which is perfectly valid, and although perhaps at the extreme of brightness is by no means unusual in the sacristies of France, northern Italy, northern Spain, Bavaria (etc), should illicit such puerile comments as “egads” (an antique expression which in England would date it to the period of this fabric), “yikes” and “eek” – these latter two belong in comic strips, not on a serious academic blog.

    DFr Z has asked, both in the post, and later in the commentary, for sensible explanation and enlightenment of something he quite legitimately finds puzzling. It behoves (I think that is a current US term, distinctly antique in the UK) my fellow bloggers to share his humility and sense of enquiry and forego a behaviour which only demonstrates their own lack of experience and knowledge.

    On a lighter note, as a child I remember serving Mass with a vestment which was pale gray with vast purple flowers (I thought they were cabbages) all over it, over a background of pale green snakes. I loved it. Goodness know what vulgar expletives you people would come up with if you saw it. It must have been about 1850, so much newer than this rainbow one.

    I would strongly recommend a Google browse for 18th and 19th century French silk vestments (“ornements liturgiques” in French), it will (presumably) make your hair stand on end.

  39. If they are from the recusancy period they look to be in very good shape. The gold cross on the masniple etc. is very 19th/20th/ century gallooning. But they could have been restored. In noting the colours one should remember that the Medieval colour schemes, where they existed, were not the same as the present Roman one.

    What truly bothers me here is that even after the point has been raised that these may be recusancy vestments (and I did hear many years ago of the custom of stripped vestments in those times)people are still ridiculing them. These vestments may have been worn by canonized martyrs. Stop being so parochial.

  40. Mark says:

    Wow…if thoes were made just to have every liturgical color in it then thoes must have been for the really poor people lol

  41. Michael UK says:

    Not relative to the vestments in question.
    The English author A N Wilson, consecutively Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, wrote humurous novels on church matters. One, in advance of the Vatican II despoilation of vestments related to the Vatican appointing a ‘with tailor to create new ‘with it’ vestments. It was hilarious.

  42. Antonio says:

    It’s a Sarape?

  43. josephus muris saliensis says:

    Antonio makes a very good point, a sarape is a blanket, and indeed, there was a tradition of recusant vestments in English private houses being made in such stuffs, and in patchwork and quilting, and kept hidden among blankets in the linen press. There are few surviving examples, one a Mapledurham, I believe.

    It is just that the chasuble which is the subject of this blog is not one such! Hoewever this would be an interesting subject for research and report.

  44. Tina says:

    I think these vestments are awesome. I actually like them.

  45. I have photos of Gothic vestments im various colors including black designed Matisse.He liveed way before VII.Someone actually made them but I doubt anyone wore them.So he stuck with painting.

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