Hidden treasures rediscovered

A sign that things are changing.

Younger priests are starting to open up dusty old cabinets, looking for treasures.

On NLM I saw this.  Happily they posted also an English translation of the original German.


The Vestment Treasury of Niedermünster

The findings’ worth is in the millions of Euros, yet priceless: 500 pieces of liturgical vestments from four centuries!


REGENSBURG. To the glory of God, generations of women from Stift Niedermünster embroidered the most precious chasubles of Lyonnaise silk with threads of silver and gold. After the liturgical reforms these precious garments fell into oblivion. They were stored away in cabinets and forgotten. Now the new pastor of the cathedral parish, Fr. Harald Scharf, called an aspiring art historian for an inventory. The findings from Niedermünster caused the raising of heads among the specialists. The German "silk papess" Barbara Beaucamp and art historians of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg showed interest in these findings. Now an inventory is made of them together with exact descriptions. On high feasts the pastor may use them again at the altar. There are planned a little exposition and a publication.


There are still wonderful things out there, unused and hidden away.  

I am sure many of you have stories about bringing out things both old and new.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    A friend knew of an anglican womyn priest who was getting rid of wonderful vestments; my guess is that they were saved and are now being worn by my wonderful parish priest. Either that or after 80 days of purple (Advent + Lent) and 64 days of White (Easter-Pentecost + Christmass Tide) I’ve forgotten how wonderful the Green for Ordinary Time actually looks- still they do look good- He has some wonderful Black vestments for All Souls day to.

  2. capchoirgirl says:

    My parish just added a gate in front of our altar. It goes between the two sides of the communion rail (yes, we use a communion rail!), and during Mass it’s locked. It’s beautiful polished brass and really emphasizes the altar and the holiness of what happens there.

  3. yatzer says:

    I sincerely hope they don’t just wind up in a museum somewhere!

  4. Frank H says:

    capchoirgirl – Sounds like St. Patrick’s in Columbus, Ohio!

  5. JosephMary says:

    A priest friend of mine was assigned to a small parish a few years ago; it was an older church of maybe 100 years old. When he went digging around he found all sorts of treasures in the back storage areas and basement and so forth. There were wonderful banners (not felt) and some monstrances and sacred vessels and statues and the bells to ring at the beginning for Mass.

    I would not be surprised if he also found altar linens and vestments.

    I have made altar linens; where did they all go that used to be there???

  6. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I have rescued a fair number of liturgical items & theological books over the years. It is amazing what has been preserved by the perseverance of a few good people.

    At St. Ignatius in San Francisco, there is an amazing set of gold embroidered vestments that was preserved by an older Jesuit.

  7. dhgyapong says:

    Several years ago, some friends and I stopped into Veronica’s, a second-hand shop in Ottawa’s Byward Market that specialized in liturgical items, many from church basements in Quebec and elsewhere, removed in the wake of Vatican II. We found a beautiful rose chausable lined with green silk that we purchased for our Traditional Anglican parish.

    Twice a year, one of our priests dons this beautiful vestment. One year, we persuaded a number of parishioners to wear pink in solidarity. So there was an array of pink sweaters, shirts, and blouses in the congregation.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    I still grieve at the vestments given to the Anglican Church down the road from the Clifton Cathedral, because none of the priests at the time wanted them. Beautiful Italian fiddle-back in all colors. I also wondered who bought the medieval vestment I saw in an antique shop in Chelsea, London, many years ago. It was priced at close to 1,000 pounds. Gorgeous and outside of my budget.

  9. Servant of the Liturgy says:

    More and more, I am becoming exceedingly convinced that some forward-thinking minds who were in charge of sacristies in the 60s and 70s quite literally hid these things away for posterity. And I thank them.

    I have found chalice veils, burses, sanctus bells, even candelabrae and a few gorgeous dalmatics, and an old altar stone hidden away in the cupboards of my sacristy. This, of course, was discoverd slowly and over time as I was ridding the place of the felt banners (thankfully not used for years and years!) and chasubles that looked more like silken pastel colored nightgowns than anything meant for the Holy of Holies. Golden metal vases (you know, the old really really pretty style with the IHS monogram on the front?) were found hiding in the back of a wine cellar. Ah, the joys of being a sacristan!

  10. capchoirgirl says:

    Frank–it is! :)

  11. Jack Hughes says:


    I used to go to Clifton Cathedral (before I found Holy Cross in Southville under the present priest to be far better) WHO was the priest at the Cathedral at the time and where are you at the moment?

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Did you belong to the Latin Mass group? I am in the “world between the worlds”, ready to move, hopefully back to Auld Blighty. Write to me at polycarp6@gmail.co and tell me when you were in Clifton.

  13. I’ve probably posted this before, but I think that the story bears repeating.

    There is a large Jesuit scholasticate in our diocese that sits on top of a promontory. Since the late 1970s, it has been the home of a traditional Catholic order not in full communion with Rome. When the Jesuits sold their scholasticate to this group, they also sold the entire library and most of its contents.

    One of my friends is the librarian there and I was allowed access to the various hallowed spots where ordinary mortals did not tread. On the second floor, for example, there was a large room that was full to the rafters with every theological manual, missal, and breviary that can be imagined. I spent hours there rummaging through these old books and looking through them. Many of them had not been opened in forty years, many bore the stamps of the convents and monasteries from which they were sent to the scholasticate or brought by certain pious, forward looking persons.

    Those rooms are a great store house of treasures that many people do not ever see. I, however, was fortunate enough to buy many books at a pittance from the librarian including several breviaries. The pastor, a kind and extremely zealous man, has given my friend orders to sell every last one of those books in the breviary room. I hope that whenever they end up for sale they will go to good homes.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    I saved some altar stones, taken out of real altars, which were supplanted by wooden tables, from a chaplaincy. The stones were is a desk drawer and an old closet. I gave one to a traditional, Catholic school, which honors the unknown saint, and the other to a traditional person, who cherished it. No one seemed to care or know anything about the stones, except that they may have been from two churches which were closed. But, how do such things get stuck in a drawer in a high school? And, why do bishops not keep track of such things?

    That same school had a monstrance from the 18th century or early 19th century, probably from France, as it was decorated with real cloisonne. It was never used for Adoration for years and years, and I always wondered what happened to it. It was stuck in a closet. I should have given it to the Bishop, but I was hoping some more trad priest would come along and use it. It was absolutely beautiful. I feel guilty about leaving it to the liberals. It was at least 18k gold if not more.

  15. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    I sincerely hope they don’t just wind up in a museum somewhere! Comment by yatzer

    Nearly all of the Cathedrals in Germany have museums attached to the Diocese with many liturgical treasures and other items on display.

    Friends that were recently stationed in Germany shared about being at a Mass in a small town near their home and the vestments were from the diocesan museum. (Fiddlebacks from the late 1700s). She said it was for a newly ordained priest’s first Mass in his home parish, he said he thought it was for a local feast day. Neither speak or read German, but attended Mass locally with their landlord’s family.

    Either or both, as long as The Church owns them, and they are being cared for, there are the opportunities for their continued use. Sell off to a secular museum or collectors… who knows what would happen to them.

  16. We dug out the “treasure trove” here (thanks be to God the former priests didn’t throw out or burn them!) and use the old vestments, Missals, altar cards, candlesticks for the EF and the OF…this report is wonderful to hear!
    God is good!

  17. The Digital MC says:

    I remember the time I was helping prepare for a TLM wedding. We (the altar servers) were more used to a thurible with three chains. Alas, the only one we saw in the sacristy was a single chain. While digging around in the back-cabinets hunting for the incense, we found a beautiful silver ornamented thurible with three chains! A little tarnished, but still beautiful. A treasure indeed!

  18. homeschoolofthree says:

    If priests want these items, they should ask their parishioners! Someone may have had the foresight to save these things and hide them away! I heard a story about a church in Indiana that wanted to put in an adoration chapel; while trying to decide what to do for an altar the priest was approached by a parishioner. When she was at her wedding rehearsal in the late ’60’s they were taking out the Mary and Joseph altars, her Father asked if he could have one, since he did not have room for both. He took one home with him and stored it in a hayloft covered with tarps. They now have it back in their church using it for the Adoration Chapel. People may be hanging on to all sorts of liturgical treasures waiting for the priest to show interest in these items!

  19. JosephMary says:

    I once visited a frairy in Michigan that had a barn on the property and it was filled with holy things that had been rescued. Folks would call and say, “The statue of St. Jude is in the dumpster; will you take it?” They had statues and altars and vestments and more.

    And there is a Sr. Wendy ( I have her information somewhere) who also has many rescued items. Yes, there are wonderful things for the furnishing of an adoration chapel or the refurbishing of a church.

  20. Warren says:

    What a find!

    And, I hesitate to ask…

    I’m the sacristan for our college daily masses (Ordinary Form). We’ve been trying to “upgrade” the liturgical items we have (pure 1970s ugly) and acquire some respectable new-to-us items. I’ve already passed on one contact (St. Louis Archdiocesan site) to our chaplain, but if there are any other reliable sources of/links to “used” or reclaimed items (starting with two altar candelabra, humeral veil (a whole benediction set would be amazing) and if we can afford one… a monstrance), I’d much appreciate any information I (or you) can pass on to our chaplain Fr. Dean (catholic@uvic.ca). The items will be cherished and well cared for. I’ll check back here over the next couple of days.

    Apologies if this post is an imposition.

  21. Tim Ferguson says:

    Like many liturgically minded seminarians, by the time I left the seminary, I had collected a decent amount of vestments and liturgical apurtenances that were being tossed out of sacristies (some literally rescued from the dumpster). Since then, I’ve found homes for just about everything – the tabernacle I picked out of a dumpster is now in the hands of a small parish that never had an altar of repose for Holy Thursday, the processional crucifix is in San Francisco, most of the copes became ordination presents for priests and deacons, the ciboria have found there way down to missions in Guatemala. I still have a pile of maniples, for which the matching vestments are long gone.

    There are horror stories too – a house of religious men I am acquainted with has a large front yard. One half of the yard floods every spring, the other side doesn’t. I commented once on the odd phenomenon to an older member of the community. He, very matter-of-factly said, “Oh, after the Council we decided to raise up the one half of the yard, so we tossed in all of the old vestments we weren’t ever going to use again, along with all the old Missals and Liber Usualises (I’m quoting him, don’t get on my back about Latin plurals!) and a couple hundred old habits, then covered it with fill dirt.”

    Knowing all that’s been lost, it’s so good to hear stories like this of tradition being restored to our Church. Thanks be to God, ecclesiastical spring is thawing!

  22. Eric says:

    I will be traveling through Atlanta next week and planned to stop by King Richards, has anyone been there? Is it worth the effort?

  23. Rob Cartusciello says:


    I did much the same thing in my studies.

    There was a >very< good storeroom of old books at Cheverus (Jesiut) High School in Portland, ME, but that was nearly twenty years ago.

  24. Henry Edwards says:

    Eric: I will be traveling through Atlanta next week and planned to stop by King Richards, has anyone been there? Is it worth the effort?

    MC’s from our TLM community have been to King Richard’s several times to shop for various furnishings we needed, and say it’s well worth the trip.

  25. Henry Edwards says:

    I recently read the newish Anthony Esolen translation of the Inferno, and feel sure that if Dante were writing it today, there would be a special ring in Hell — far down toward the bottom of the Pit — solely for those who wreckovated churches and threw out sacred objects and vestments, with particular punishment expecially for clergy and religious guilty of these heinous crimes.

  26. Ignatius21 says:

    We have found a fabulous set of altar cards in the rectory attic, and have found and are using antependiums, a fantastic processional cross, and thurible(both stuffed up behind the organ…). I have also recieved a wonderfully embroidered banner with an aspersorium and a few vestments from an alert parishioner who saved them from the burn pile. Recently in the archives two relics of Pius X and one of Therese of Lisieux have turned up.

    From another parish we have borrowed wonderful fiddlebacks and copes (naturally wrapped in plastic behind the colored potato sacks they are using)for our younger pastor to wear.

    Thinking of what has been lost makes me want to throw up.

  27. Re: fill dirt

    This might not apply because of water seepage at that site… but it’s well known in archaeology and history circles that a dump often preserves stuff in its middle fairly well. (All the surrounding layers keep out the oxygen, the damp, and the various microorganisms, and the temperature doesn’t change much.) This is why you can find readable newspapers from the 1800’s, or more recently, shoes that are hundreds of thousands of years old.

    So if anybody had the stomach to do a dig at the place mentioned above, it’s quite likely that at least some of the stuff might be intact. Of course, a lot of it would probably be very very decomposed, so it might be better just to leave it alone or to use masks against mold and yucky smells. Metal stuff, of course, would probably be okay though tarnished, unless they went to the trouble of breaking/melting it first.

  28. Re: lost things

    Well, it is sad and sickening. But no matter how well you keep things in this world, they will eventually be lost. Books and cloth disintegrate, and metal gets worn out or dented. The disrespect is what’s sadder.

    The love that went into making those things is not lost, and we will have it forever. So don’t let yourself get too downcast; resolve to make things better.

  29. Eric says:

    Thanks Henry.

  30. HighMass says:

    Praise be to GOD that there are SOME places who can open up there dusty cabinets, and find these beautiful vestments. In the area were i reside alot of those treasures when out pre-1970 as soon as VII was completed, if one is lucky you find a tresure here or there, but not like it was before. Praise GOD with the Younger Priests things are slowly changing…..

    But is still alot of resistance out there!

    Che Picato!

  31. Rob Cartusciello says:

    In the mid 90s there was an antique store in Wrigleyville, Chicago that sold relics that were abandoned by various churches & religious communities. Those with papers were several hundred dollars, but those without were only $50.

    I scrimped and saved my tiny Jesuit scholastic monthly allowance ($125) and rescued several relics over three years (St. Dominic, St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Maria Goretti).

    I still have some of them, while others were given as gifts to those who would value them.

  32. MOP says:

    Beautiful traditional fiddlebacks are still being made by groups such as St. Benet’s Guild (check Google for website) and by traditional religious sisters. These vestments are carefully made to order for a priest or parish here in the USA. Yes, many have lost the patrimony that was in their parish, but it can be restored. Just as the beautiful liturgy is being renewed, the vestments will follow.

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