A charming steel engraving of the painting by Victorian British painter David Wilkie Wynfield (1837 – 1887) it first made an appearance at the London Royal Academy in 1876. Wynfield was also a prolific photographer – his early work is sheer genius. He once aspired to the priesthood himself. Quite a story going on in this picture! The new curate has been put under the microscope by Mamma- and the young lady with the fan may be predicting a future scene with herself as Rector’s wife!
With hurricane Earl on the way up the cost and the news that we have had 33 days thus far of over 90 degree days this long summer, what a blessing to contemplate Autumn on the doorstep. Sacristies are smelling fusty, flowers are wilting on the altar, and just about everything needs a cleaning and freshening. I have been in hospital with kidney stones and tooth extractions and am now glad to be back at the computer. Most gardens have taken such a beating this summer in churchyards everywhere, I decided to postpone our church garden crawl until next spring- May looks like a good month.
I recently was looking at a beautiful frontal which was done by the Sisters of St. John Baptist, when the order was in New York. It was done for the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in Newport for St. John the Evangelist on burnt red-orange velvet and has the 7 sacraments in symbols with angels. I shall dig out a photo of this to post tonight. It made me visually try to recollect all the symbols for the sacraments. Without looking at the drawing below- can you remember the sacraments and their symbols!?
“Presently, my firm is redesigning the sacristy at our church which was originally built in @ 1950. This is the only article that I have been able to find on the subject although our clergy has tried to contact a number of churches for suggestions. Thank you!
One of my first big undertakings in the sacristy was to restore some old alb laces found in a suitcase in the top of a closet. The strips were tiny brown balls and looked nothing like lace. After gently unraveling the dirty bundles, the bobbin lace revealed itself in all its splendor. Old laces may never again be truly white-white, but you can come pretty close with some tender loving care and patience.
Most of the best 19th century bobbin lace came from Brussels, Venice, or England. Some convents began lace schools to teach young women a trade. Bobbin lace is worked on a cushion with fine linen or cotton thread, pins and spindle-like bobbins. Hand-made lace is highly collectible and valuable. Eventually machine-made laces proved cheaper and faster to make, but did not have the gossamer delicacy and airy-ness of handmade.
I first called Katy Kliot at LACIS in Berkely, California (see our links) who suggested using BIZ to clean and brighten the laces. I found that soaking the laces, and changing the water as it became soiled, loosened up most of the dirt and dust. Laces must be handled gently while washing so as not to break the “brides”- or the thin connecting threads which hold together the motifs. Sometimes I slipped a spatula under the laces to turn them. Never wring or twist lace, or lift it up while it is saturated- the weight of the water will snap the threads. This takes patience. When the Biz has been added to warm water, agitate the detergent to a froth with your hands , then lay in the lace for the soakings. I like to use a plastic dish pan for this process. When the rinsing phase is through, lay the lace on a clean white terry towel and gently pat the lace in an up and down motion which will absorb a great deal of the water. Gently press the lace out with your hand on the towel, smoothing the motifs into place. I then place the towel on my picnic table out in the sun where the brightening rays will do wonders for whitening the lace. When completely dry, store in acid -free tissue, as flat as space permits.
Insertion laces are easy to spot, the edges will be perfectly straight on both sides. Alb and surplice hem or sleeve laces usually have one straight edge and one scalloped or irregular patterned edge. Insertion lace was applied to hems of surplices or albs, then the back cloth was cut away to reveal the lace in front. Generally priests, bishops, Masters of Ceremony, and older altar servers wear the insertion style laces, very young servers have hanging lace on their cottas at the hem.
In the photo above I am getting the procession ready. Young Lucas has a stubborn cowlick that won’t lay down! Do you have an Acolyte Matron to assist before services? If there is a large acolyte guild, one or two people dedicated to keeping the vestments tidy and assisting with young members can be a godsend- and a lot of fun. Youngsters often need prompting to wash hands, comb hair, stand up straight, be quiet, and be ready on time. The position of Acolyte Matron is seen often in England for servers and young choirs.
Clergy always appreciates clean, laid-out vestments, ready to put on with no worries. Lace is making a comeback in the new vestment catalogues. Mostly it is detachable and synthetic on albs and easy to launder. In the good old days, nuns loosely stitched lace on so it could be removed for laundering. Now we have snaps and Velcro! All photos above are from Saint John the Evangelist in Newport, December 2000.
Yes- that is Father Douglas Burger from Woonsocket in the photo above, serving at Midnight Mass as Deacon in his dalmatic.
Of all the symbols of Easter, perhaps none is so familiar as the Agnus Dei. We see it in woven damask for frontals and vestments, on banners and even on special small linen sets for the altar. It must be crowned with a three-rayed nimbus or halo, signifying that it is a symbol of divinity and is featured with the white ground, red cross Banner of Victory.
The LAMB is the symbol associated with Jesus. He is often referred to in the Bible as the “Lamb of God” (Revelation 5:6-14). John the Baptist described Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Passover lamb (Exodus 12:1-11) has been interpreted by Christians as foreshadowing Jesus’ sacrificial death (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Although the white lily is most often connected to the Mother of God, and is a symbol for purity and innocence, the EASTER LILY, which blooms in the spring close to Easter time has become a popular symbol. Because they are shaped like trumpets, lilies are symbols of immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52). Lilies are seen as pot decoration and cut for altar vases for Easter as well as motifs on church altar rail kneelers, stained glass windows, Easter bulletin decoration and Easter banners.
More rarely seen in decoration or textiles is the BUTTERFLY. It symbolizes the life cycle of Jesus and the Christian in the following order: the caterpillar stage represents natural earthly life; the cocoon represents death of the body; the butterfly emerging from the cocoon represents the resurrection. Another animal connected to the resurrection is the PHOENIX. Believed to have retained its immortality since, unlike the rest of the birds, it refused to eat from the forbidden tree in the garden of Eden.The phoenix lived for 500 years between rejuvenations. Every 500 years, it created a combination funeral pyre/nest for itself of spices and herbs, sat on it and set itself on fire. When the fire died down, an egg would be found among the ashes from which the phoenix which laid it would hatch. It has become a symbol of the resurrection.
Rarely seen in America as a symbol of the resurrection is the SWALLOW which flew around the cross chirping “Svale! Svale!” which is Scandinavian for “Cheer up! Cheer up!” Since this bird hibernates in the mud during the winter, his awakening in the spring is a symbol of the resurrection.
Another rare symbol is the WHALE for as Jesus said “For as Jonas was 3 days and 3 nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth” (Mt 12:40).
The HARE, or wild rabbit is a symbol of the moon. It became associated with Easter because the moon is used to determine the date of Easter. According to the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21st. Have you ever seen this in church? It just might explain the “Easter Bunny” popularity in modern culture at Eastertide.
The PEACOCK Symbolizes immortality and the resurrection since its flesh was once believed to be incorruptible or immune to decay. The peacock damask below was found in a Rhode Island chasuble
The LION and EGG are other resurrection symbols. In the Bible, Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The genealogies of the New Testament point out that Jesus was a descendant of Judah from whom the eternal ruler was to come. The EGG shell can be seen as a nurturing, life giving tomb. The hatching chick represents Christ emerging from the tomb. The resurrection symbolism of the egg is enhanced by the legend of the phoenix.
Do you know of other symbols for the resurrection?
I have received quite a few requests for patterns for vestments. Simplicity used to have a good one for cassocks and cottas and surplices. If anyone here has suggestions, please drop a line to email@example.com so we may post the resource. Beryl Dean has eucharistic vestment patterns in several of her books, but these I find must be enlarged and the directions are not easy to follow. Elizabeth Morgan has a few patterns on her site http://www.churchlinens.com/sewing_church_linens.htm
This site offers supplies and vestment-making seminars http://www.sewvestment.com/
Here are pre-cut vestment kits.
This response just in today: Thanks, Mary!
“Oh, one other recommendation–I’ve bought lots of simply stupendous trim at incredible prices from the vendor “Heritage Trading” on ebay (http://stores.ebay.com/Heritage-Trading). They ship direct from India–the craftmanship and the quality is just jaw droppingly stunning.”
Yes, when Church of the Advent in Boston refurbished a frontal, the trims from Turkey were amazing. India has spectacular metallic thread work in tassels, fringe and gallooning.
Have you ordered your Paschal Candle? We’ve been busy in the sacristy these days, cleaning up after the Christmas- Epiphanytide, burning palms for Ash Wednesday, ordering two new fair linens, a case of wine, baking altar bread, confirming our palms order, etc. The kitchen still smells faintly of Shrove Tuesday pancakes. It is a busy time, taking stock, getting in order, replenishing supplies, and preparing for the great feast of Easter, both spiritually and practically.
We had hoped to have our fair linens in by Easter, but it takes time to get things back from Madeira where the embroidery is done. After much comparison, we did select Mary Moore through Almy. Did you know that you can request fabric samples from the company? After comparing Irish and Belgian linens, the Belgian linen had a nicer weave and so we are ordering Belgian this time!
Also some news to tell you- the Diocesan Directory is now online. This lists all of the churches as well as Diocesan offices, addresses, clergy, emails and all sorts of helpful information. You may access the pdf file at this link http://www.episcopalri.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Directory/Web%20Directory%20Feb%202010.pdf or from the contact link on the Diocesan web site www.episcopalri.org
Any photos to share from your parish?
Please click on the link below the vintage print to view a wonderful video made by Karen Vorbeck Williams at St. Stephen’s Church in Providence on the occasion of the ordination of Fr. Tuck on January 23th. The music on the video is from the S. Stephen’s Schola Cantorum’s album Stephen Full of Grace . The Most Rev’d Frank T. Griswold ordained the Rev’d Michael G. Tuck to the Sacred Order of Priests.
I know you will also enjoy seeing the beautiful chapel with the singular glass Gothic screen, the vestments, and the glorious procession.
Some altar guilds in the state have ordered small linens from the Sisters of St. Margaret in Haiti. The convent motherhouse is in Massachusetts with a special mission in Haiti which has helped the local neighborhood by teaching sewing skills. Sister Adele was usually the contact for ordering the small linens, all beautifully hemmed and embroidered. The letter below from our bishop gives an update on their situation there.
We have all heard the devastating news from Haiti, and I’m sure that you prayed for the people of the country and the Diocese of Haiti. I have just (11AM) received news that St. Margaret’s convent, school, and orphanage have been destroyed, along with the Cathedral and Bishop’s residence. There is no word about the three sisters stationed there, the children at the orphanage, or the bishop and his family. If any of you receive word, please contact me as soon as possible.
Some of you have asked about donations. I have just received an SOS from Episcopal Relief and Development, and from the Society of St. Margaret. In the name of the diocese I will forward immediately, $3,000 to ERD and $2,000 to the sisters. Further contributions can be made to these entities, earmarked for Haiti. Funds sent to the Diocese, earmarked for Haiti or ERD, will be sent to ERD, as soon as possible. Please see below for information on how to make a donation.
Please keep me in your prayers as well, for one of the sisters in Haiti is a very close friend of mine.
Society of St. Margaret
17 Highland Park Street
Boston, MA 02119-7120
Episcopal Relief and Development
P.O. Box 7058
Happy New Year! I have been down with the flu bug along with many others for the past two weeks. I am hoping you have taken many great photos of your church decorated for Christmas and will share with us here.
The catalogues are starting to come into my office so it must be January! I love looking through all of the religious goods catalogues and finding new items. You may want to keep one of those stand-up storage files in your sacristy for your supply catalogues. Almy’s and Egan’s usually are sent routinely to the church office, but all companies will be delighted to send a catalogue and sometimes even fabric swatches and samples upon request. If you have a good resource, please send me the company name so we can share it here. I will be posting catalogue resources this year beginning with Monastery Icons http://www.monasteryicons.com/
The company has a beautiful line of icons. I ordered the St. Damiano crucifix to the left a few years ago for Taize prayer services. You will enjoy surfing their website for cards, beautiful jewelry, statues, garden statuary, Celtic designs, incense, banners, and many other kinds of religious items. There is a link on the site to request a free catalogue. Perhaps someone in your altar guild will be appointed to maintain a catalogue supply archive for your sacristy. It is always a help to have a catalogue with photos at the ready when a donor comes forward wishing to donate an item to the church.
While searching out last year’s boxed cards, I found a few photos from 2000 at St. John the Evangelist in Newport. I will post some of these over the next few days leading up to Christmas Eve. This one is probably a good one for this weekend as I imagine all over America the Altar Guild has been busy polishing brass and silver! How I wish I had a digital camera back in those days!
This was our first “”white Christmas”- no red poinsettias. The altar frontal was our oldest dating to about the building of the church in 1893. This was the year of taking out all of our old brass, polishing it like the top of the Chrysler Building(which took weeks of hard work) – and putting up the huge altar cross which had been given from historic Trinity church when St. John’s was a mission on The Point. The altar decoration was copied identically from one of the oldest photos in the church archive. I forget exactly how many candles went up- over 40- but Father said the heat was terrific and he needed oven mitts and an asbestos chasuble!
What did our brass squad use? MAAS metal cleaner-much better than Brasso or Never Dull. And for silver?- Wright’s silver cream!
Outside were white bag luminaries up and down the street and up the front steps of Washington St. White velvet ribbons, white poinsettias and white roses on the altar- truly a Night of Light to remember always.
A few emails have come in this week about decorating for Rose Sunday on the 13th. Rose refers to the color of the hangings and vestments, not the flower- although roses are beautiful, if somewhat expensive this time of year. I like the Advent wreath below, which for Rose Sunday has been embellished slightly with a touch of lavender caspia, purple statice and a few pink blossoms picked into the greens. The inexpensive small shrub roses would be ideal. Since the Rose Sunday decoration will be coming down when Sunday has ended, it is a good idea to have a simple, modest display against the greens some churches use throughout Advent.
A few simple pink roses in a vase of pristine water on the bulletin table at the back of church is a welcoming touch that announces this Sunday of Refreshment. If your church is very large, with a great altar and reredos, you might consider something on a larger scale, in proportion to the worship space which can be seen from the back of church. A custom which I kept at one of my former parishes was to use two very large stone altar urns filled with pink roses in several shades, lavender caspia, and salal greens, which at the end of the services would be dismantled and the roses going to the mothers of the parish or in bud vases to shut-ins or parishioners in the hospital .
Here is a formal altar arrangement of matched silver vases using the purple, blue and pink colors of Advent with pink gerbera daisies as the pink rounds focus, and purple stocks and delphiniums for the spikes. At this time of year, this would be an expensive flower choice. I am a big fan of carnations, which are a bargain just now, and are especially lovely when used as the sole flower in the arrangement, large single heads mixed with multi-headed miniature carnation stems, and silvery eucalyptus for greens and spikes.
Here is an arrangement I did of yellow roses which sets elevated behind a center tabernacle. Several bricks are used which are hidden behind to raise up the arrangement, and a long plastic green window box holds 4 bricks of Oasis foam inside. This arrangement uses 24 long stemmed, large-headed roses and could be very effective done in shades of pink roses for Rose Sunday.
Here is a simple loose asymmetrical arrangement using lilies and freesia (costly at this time of year). Local supermarkets do have some very pretty pink lilies just now, but it is more the shape than the flower type of interest here. This could be done just as nicely with small pink roses, a few larger pink roses, and the baby’s breath or some purple statice. This is one of a pair, with the opposite side reversed on the other side of the cross.
Throughout the coming weeks, do have someone from the altar guild designated to take photographs of your church decorations- how often do we wish we had done this when January rolls around? It is a practical record for future altar guilds and a treasure for the church archives. For those altar guilds having Christmas parties over the next two weeks, be sure to take a group photo and put the names and date on the back. An altar guild photo album will provide so many wonderful memories over the years. And please do send in photos of your Advent and Christmas decorations to share here! (Revdma@aol.com)