Request to readers: towel rack… yes… you read that right…

US2060630-0If I had to build a church or restructure one, there are some traditional things that I would be sure to include in the sacristy.

I would make sure there are adequately deep drawers and closets for vestments, a vault, a sacrarium, a niche with a kneeler with the before and after Mass prayer charts, and a “lavabo” sink for the washing of hands before and after Mass.

Speaking of washing of hands, a priest wrote to me asking help.

Dear Father Z,

We were thinking of getting the ante and post Missam towel racks, or having them made.  The only thing I could find was this reference to a 1936 Patent:  HERE

I thought maybe your readers might know of a place that still makes them or sells them.  In the alternative, you might consider asking people to send in pictures of their own if they still have them in their sacristies.

I think this would be a useful resource.



A priest sent this in.  Thanks Father GL!

Towel Rack 01

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Quis est textus auctor?

  2. That is the classic prayer priests and other ministers, even servers, would say as part of their vesting process. Vesting in the Roman way always starts with washing hands.

  3. Rouxfus says:

    That prayer is included in the excellent iPieta app, as the first of several vesting prayers. The English translation included:

    Give strength to my hands, Lord,
    to wipe away all stain,
    so that I may be able to serve Thee
    in purity of mind and body.

    Then there follows in turn prayers for each vestment: Amice, Alb, Cincture, Maniple, Stole, Chasuble, and Dalmatic. The prayers provide a bit of catechesis about each item. For example, the Amice prayer makes clear that it serves as a spiritual armor:

    Impone, Domine, capiti meo galeam salutis,
    ad expugnandos diabolicos incursus.

    Lord, set the helmet of salvation on my head
    to fend off all the assaults of the devil.

    Are vesting prayers deprecated in the Novus Ordo rite, or “is it a custom more honor’d in the breach than in the observance?”

  4. mburn16 says:

    Out of curiosity…what is the virtue of separate towels ante/post missam?

  5. Norah says:

    Gee if father has to say all of those prayers there won’t be time for the verbal party which takes place in the sacristy before all Masses.

  6. Mariana2 says:

    The wonderful stuff we converts in Lutheran lands have never seen. A pre and post Mass towel rack with engraved prayers! Le sigh.

  7. JonPatrick says:

    mburn16, I’m thinking because there might still remain fragments of the hosts on the priests hands, so perhaps the post missam towels have to be washed with the other altar linens?

  8. JonPatrick: You have grasped the logic of it.

  9. Fr. Pius, OP says:

    Fr. Z,

    Thanks so much for posting this. Does anyone know of a company that still makes these?

  10. Facta Non Verba says:

    I looked up this old expired patent and did a forward search on it. There were no citations to it, and no improvement patents over it. I did see that the inventor, Henry Mertel, has several patents related to tabernacle safes and one related to a gate for an altar rail.

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