On a recent visit to Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, England I found a small group of dedicated needleworkers busy sewing new vestments. The Cathedral Sewing Guild meets weekly to maintain and repair the robes, embroideries and hassocks.
Over the years the Guild has made vestments, collection bags, cushions, kneelers, gowns for St Mary's Singers, and carried out numerous adjustments to the choristers cassocks.
They work in the Cathedral as besides the good light and space available it enables visitors to witness their work and ask questions.
Church embroidery opens up a whole new field of needlework to be explored. As the the V&A’s autumn exhibition Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery, draws nearer now is a good time to find out more.
The Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an Anglican cathedral located in the city of Truro, Cornwall, England. The "uniform" used in the Cathedral is known as a Set. (Images used are taken from different periods, denominations and countries).CHASUBLE: This is the principal vestment, worn by the President (the officiating priest). It was originally circular with a hole for the head but is now open at the side like a tabard.
DALMATIC: A short robe with large, full sleeves and often highly ornamented, which is worn by the Deacon (this originated in Dalamtia, hence the name.
TUNICLE: Shorter than the Dalmatic and less richly ornamented; it is worn by the Gospel Clerk (who carries the Gospels) and the Crucifer (who carries the Processional Cross)
STOLE: A band worn like a scarf; it is a symbol of priesthood and represents the yolk of Christ.
BURSE: A flat square of stiffened silk which holds the Corporal, (the cloth on which are placed the communion vessels)
VEIL: A square of silk, which covers the chalice on the altar.
Liturgical colours are specific colours used for vestments and hangings within the context of Christian liturgy. The symbolism of violet, white, green, red, gold, black, rose and other colours may serve to underline moods appropriate to a season of the liturgical year or may highlight a special occasion.
On my visit to the Cathedral I was fortunate to be taken down into the Crypt and allowed to
see the vestments.
There are some regional exceptions to the Liturgical colours.
Blue, a colour associated with the Virgin Mary, is permitted for the feast of the Immaculate Conception in Spain and in some dioceses in Portugal, Mexico, and South America. In the Philippines, it is authorised for all feasts of the Virgin Mary, a practice followed in some other places without official warrant. There have also been uses of blue in place of violet for the season of Advent despite the fact that this practice is prohibited under liturgical law.
White or cloth of gold was traditionally used for the Novena from 16 to 24 December according to a Spanish custom abolished in that country in the 1950s, but still widely observed in the Philippines. White is also used for East Asian Masses for the dead, as white is the traditional colour of mourning in many of the region's cultures.
Violet or black are often permitted on national holidays honoring military dead. For example in Canada, they are used on Remembrance Day.
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