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Traditional Roman Mass: How to Make Vestments

Traditional Roman Mass: How to Make Vestments

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How to Make Vestments


Noel MacDonald Wilby and Elizabeth Carr
Burns Oates and Washbourne LTD
1936, Spiralbound Xerographic Reproduction, 82pp., English


Impóne, Dómine, cápiti meo gáleam salútis,
Ad expugnándos diabólicos incúrsus.

Place, O Lord, the helmet of salvation upon my head,
That I may overcome the assaults of the devil.

Cleanse me, O Lord, and purify my heart,
That being made white in the Blood of the Lamb,
I may have the fruition of everlasting joys.

Gird me, O Lord, with the girdle of purity
And extinguish in my loins the desire of lust:
So that the virtue of continence and chastity may ever abide within me.
May I be worthy, O Lord, so to bear the maniple of tears and sorrow:
That with joy I may receive the reward of my labor.



'WHAT are Catholic Vestments, and how does one make them? I am very fond of sewing, but I don't know anything about them.'

This question, put to me by a convert skilled with her needle, made me realise that I could think of no handbook which would meet her requirements with plain, practical directions similar to those given by the popular dressmaking periodicals. The present little guide is an attempt to answer the question and to bridge the gap felt by many zealous Catholic women living in the country or otherwise isolated from sources of instruction. It makes no claim to be more than a practical handbook for Catholic needlewomen, as its name implies, strictly in accordance with the laws of the Church regarding Vestments. Her absolute laws on this subject are comparatively few, but very definite.

There is no scope in these pages to theorise in optional matters of taste; nor to enter into the keen 'Gothic' v. 'Roman' controversy. These terms are used here merely to denote the differing styles of Vestments as they are to be found in church furnishers' catalogues. All that can be done in this little book is to give directions for making the simplest forms of both so called styles; individual requirements can be built up from the directions here given for making the essentials of Catholic worship as regards needlework. But the formation of sound taste in these matters can be greatly assisted by the study of our glorious heritage of craftsmanship in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Vestment Rooms) in London; in good illustrated books on old ecclesiastical embroidery; and-for those fortunate enough to travel-in the unrivalled collection of treasures in the sacristy of St. Peter's, Rome, and others elsewhere.

In the old days of Catholic England, from the early springtime of Anglo-Saxon Christianity down to the catastrophe of the Reformation, the great glory of Englishwomen was their skill in making sacred Vestments. In convent, castle and royal palace alike their work and recreation consisted in the embroidering and fashioning of Vestments so beautiful that they were almost worthy of their purpose, the direct service of God. This renown of Englishwomen crossed the seas; their magnificent gold embroidery became known to Europe as 'Opus Anglicanum,' and a Pope sent to England for specimens of it, to add to the riches of Rome.

To-day few women possess simultaneously the skill, the means, and the leisure to produce such crowning glories of the still popular art of embroidery. Yet the need of Vestments of all qualities, both for the Home and Foreign Missions, has seldom been more urgent than it is at present. Not only do all Vestments wear out in course of time and constantly need skilled repairs, but the rapidly multiplying new Mass centres in poor and struggling districts throughout the country are usually in desperate need of the minimum Vestments, even of the simplest description. But the wants of the Foreign Missions-so dear to the heart of our Holy Father-cry aloud to us in their extremity and vastness. Father Martindale gave a typical instance of the widespread degree of need during a lecture on South Africa when he described a Mission station in which poverty compelled the priest to use a window curtain as a humeral veil, and to cut out the lining of his only cope to send a neighbouring priest something, at least, to enable him to give Benediction.

Much might be done to remedy this state of affairs at home and abroad if only the abundantly existing good will and interest were aided by practical knowledge.

The clergy of white races on the Foreign Missions are cared for by the Catholic Women's Missionary League, which exists to supply gifts in kind, but not in money-that is the work of the A.P.F. In addition to the constant demand for cotton dresses for girls, and shirts and shorts for boys of all ages, the League provides altar linen and Vestments according to its means. Members who live in or near London are welcomed as workers in the Vestment Room at headquarters; those who reside at a distance work in their own homes or for their local centre.

While these two associations, and well-organised altar societies, do much to help, the crying demand is so great that much more might be done if practical directions on the making of Vestments were easily available for the ordinary Catholic woman who loves her needle and the service of God. This book may, it is hoped, enable any reader who can use a needle neatly to devote her spare time to the highest employment possible to the Catholic needlewoman.

Table of Contents

* Descriptive List of Vestments
* Descriptive List of Altar Linens
* The Antependium
* The Tabernacle Veilings
* The Other Veilings

The Liturgical Colors


Methods of Decorations

How to Make:
* A Roman Preaching Stole
* A Gothic Preaching Stole
* An Administration Stole
* An Broad Stole
* A Burse
* A Humeral Veil
* A Cope
* A Low Mass Set--Roman
* A Low Mass Set--Gothic
* A Dalmatic and Tunicle

Ecclesiatical Embroidery

Altar Lace

Linen: How to Make:
* An Amice
* An Alb
* A Priest's Cotta
* A Server's Cotta

Altar Linen: How to Make:
* A Corporal
* A Pall
* A Purificator
* A Lavabo Towel
* Altar Cloths
* A Credence Cloth

Veilings: How to Make:
* An Antependium
* A Tabernacle Veil
* A Ciborium Veil
* A Monstrance Veil
* An Exposition Voelum
* A Maundy Thursday Chalice Veil
* A Pyx Bag
* An Altar Cover
* The Lenten Veilings


Redde mihi, Dómine, stolam immortalitátis,
Quam pérdidi in prævaricatióne primi paréntis:
Et quamvis indígnus accédo ad tuum sacrum mystérium,
Mérear tamen gáudium sempitérnam.

Restore to me, O Lord, the stole of immortality,
Which I lost by the transgression of the first parent:
And although unworthy, as I draw near to Thy sacred mystery,
May I be found worthy of everlasting joy.

O Lord, who hast said, "My yoke is easy, and My burden light"
Make me so able to bear it, that I may obtain Thy favor. Amen.