Sunday 21 July 2024

Launch of the St Mary Magdalen Chapter

 Lucy writes: It was a great pleasure to attend the launch of the St Mary Magdalen Chapter yesterday, at the invitation of Chapter Leader Ola Smalley, and there were several friends of the Guild of St Clare also there including recent Sponsorship award winner Julija Bigataite.

The Chapter is entrusted with the care of the vestment collection at St Mary Magdalen, which under the supervision of Fr Martin Edwards has grown into a magnificent and eclectic collection. As the interiors of the church is Arts & Crafts, Fr Martin has successfully acquired many vestments of the same period, and they are extremely unusual in design, and beautifully made. 

We made a tentative start on a violet High Mass Set, the lining of which is damaged.

We also took our courage in our hands and tackled an ombrellino cover.

The church's most useful black Cope urgently needed a new morse and new clasps, and this task was nearly completed by the end of the afternoon.

I was very impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of the new Chapter, and they are fortunate to have a couple of skilled supporters, so that they will be equal to the demands made of them.

The next meeting is scheduled for September, and will meet at regular monthly intervals thereafter. To find out more or to join the group, email Ola on .

Saturday 20 July 2024

Welcome to our newest supporter!

I'm delighted to be able to announce the arrival of our newest and youngest member, little Marita Beatrice Ulrike Windsor, daughter to Vreni, our London (St Bede's) Chapter Leader and her husband Tom. Marita is their tenth child. 

Marita was born at 4.31pm yesterday (Friday 19th July). I'm sure she was hoping to be in time for our quarterly Chapter Leader's meeting, which bodes very well for the future! 

Vreni and Tom have been stalwart supporters of the Traditional Mass for twenty years, and have been particularly active at St Bede's, Clapham Park, where there is a large and long-standing community. Their ten children are among their great gifts to the traditional movement; the oldest of them have already become, in their turn, of invaluable assistance, helping at many local and national events.  We thank the whole Windsor family and send them our congratulations on this auspicious arrival.

Wednesday 3 July 2024

A Response to Casual Contempt

Lucy writes: A photograph published on Twitter last weekend, of a female Church of England ordinand wearing a Borromean chasuble, gave rise to considerable debate, much of it too disedifying to warrant special notice. But one comment, directed towards me as a representative of the Guild of St Clare, does require a response, if only a brief one, especially since it manifests a common attitude. Here it is.

Women in the Catholic Church fill many roles, and Joseph Shaw, in his own response to this tweet, drew attention to Diane Montagna, one of our most influential journalists, Clare McCullough of the Good Counsel Network whose unstinting efforts have saved hundreds of unborn babies from abortion, Gwyneth Thompson-Briggs, noted sacred artist, in addition to women from past decades such as Sue Coot and Iris Roper, to whom the movement for the Traditional Mass owes so much. These women are an inspiration to all, a witness to the many ways in which women can serve the Church with distinction and true femininity.

At the Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat, February 2021

The Church has need of more than leaders, however. The fabric of her buildings must be maintained, and her furnishings also. For those of us - most of us - not able to take the lead in public life, the care of vestments and Church furnishings has come to represent a significant part of our devotional life. "Every stitch an Ave," Fr Stephen Morrison OPraem, one of our strongest supporters, is fond of saying - and it is true. Handling the garments that are used in the highest prayer of the Church draws one into a kind of prayer that is at once a meditation and an alms.

Repairs to the goldwork on a Humeral Veil

St Joseph was a carpenter, a skilled craftsman. Our Lord himself washed the feet of the apostles, warning them: "If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me." The true Christian life lies not only in the ability to value the most menial task, and to understand that its very lowliness gives glory to God in a way that is particularly precious - but also to be able to accept a menial offering with humility and gratitude. 

The Guild of St Clare at our annual class at the Royal School of Needlework

It is true that much of the sewing involved in the mending of vestments is simple and unexciting. But there is much more to it than setting the stitches. The woman with the issue of blood understood well the power of the clothing of the Lord: "If I shall but touch his garment, I shall be whole." Those of us who do reverently touch and care for His garments, do indeed experience the consolation and healing power of Christ.

Painstaking repairs to a beautiful and fragile chasuble

I do not suggest that it is the task of every woman to undertake this work. (I certainly don't think that it is a task that should be limited to women either - at the Guild of St Clare we have welcomed the assistance of many men over the years, and count them amongst some of our most enthusiastic and skilled helpers.) Those who do join us, however, both men and women, in a spirit of prayerful generosity, can be sure that the Lord does not despise our efforts; more than that, that they have an honoured place in the mission of the Church Militant.

Fr Stephen Morrison OPraem repairing the cassock of one of his servers

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Sewing Kits for Sale

The Guild of St Clare is excited to announce the launch of a new venture: the sale of our exclusive Sewing Kits online, through the Latin Mass Society shop.

Pocket Shrine kits featuring the Sacred Heart and the Madonna & Child

The Guild has been producing and selling kits for a few years, but only at our workshops and retreats, or by special request. Now for the first time they are available to a wider audience.

Our perennially popular Embroidered Scapular kits

At the moment, the LMS is stocking five of our kits: the Embroidered Scapular kits, the Pocket Shrine kits, the Rosary Purse kits, the Travelling Stole kits and the Vestment Mender's Sewing kit. As our range expands, we hope that the LMS will continue to stock the full range.

The Vestment Mender's Sewing kit: everything you need to get started

More kits are under development already, and by Christmas we hope that an even larger number of our kits will be on offer.

The Travelling Stole kit, including damask from world famous Papal outfitters Gammarelli

All our kits come with all the materials you need to make each item, and full instructions. For further information email Lucy on .

Sunday 16 June 2024

Chapter Leaders' Outing

 Lucy writes: Guild of St Clare Chapter Leaders convened at the office of the Latin Mass Society yesterday, to enjoy a light lunch and a chat before embarking on a tour of some of London's best sewing shops.

Lucy and the Guild Chapter Leaders, next to the LMS Vestment presses

This is the first occasion on which we have all met together in person. Our Northern Chapter Leaders had the furthest to come, travelling from Durham and Manchester to be with us. The prize for the longest journey went to Clare Megarity, also one of the leaders of the Northern Chapter, who came straight to the meeting from a conference in Sweden.

The Northern Chapter leads the way in commitment both to work and recreation

One of the biggest challenges in vestment mending is finding appropriate materials. The braids, damasks and trimmings aren't widely available and can't easily be found using internet searches. However they are stocked in some places in London, and I was thrilled to be able to share the fruits of my researches with the other Guild of St Clare volunteers.

Buttons at Macculloch & Wallis

I was pleased to have the opportunity to buy some of the materials I will need for the sewing project for the St Catherine's Trust Summer School: a special Marian bag, which I hope also to sell as Guild of St Clare kits once I have completed the preparations.

Shopping was of course followed by cream tea, and readers will be delighted to hear that we have settled the vexed question of whether to put the jam or the cream first on to the scones. The answer is, of course, jam first, but we experimented exhaustively in order to verify our data.

Cream tea at the Ivy Café, Marylebone Lane

I am so grateful to the Guild's Chapter Leaders who pour so much of their precious time, skill and resources into organising the vestment mending effort, helping to build a prayerful community around the traditional Mass.

Chapter Leaders at Liberty of London

N.B. We keep an updated list of suppliers on our website, to help others find the materials needed for vestment mending.

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Launch of the St Mary Magdalen Chapter

I'm delighted to announce the launch of a new Guild of St Clare Chapter at St Mary Magdalen, Wandsworth. The Chapter will be led by Ola Smalley; please email her if you would like to be involved on .

Ola at the Guild of St Clare vestment mending workshop, June 2024

St Mary Magdalen has been home to the Traditional Mass for many years. Canon Martin Edwards, the parish priest there, has done a great deal to restore it and also to build up the vestment collection, always with an eye to maintaining the artistic coherence of the furnishings and interiors.

Mass for the reunion of the Chartres pilgrims, 2014

 I attended a Requiem there on one occasion and was dazzled by the remarkable early twentieth century black High Mass Set which Fr Edwards had acquired. It will be an honour for the Guild to assist Fr Edwards in the work of preserving and maintaining his vestments.

Solemn Requiem for Remembrance Sunday 2010 at St Mary Magdalen

The Chapter Launch will be on Saturday, 20th July at 12 noon. For more details, or to join, please email Ola.

Photo credit: Joseph Shaw,

Sunday 9 June 2024

Vestment mending at St Mary Moorfields, 8th June

We had another pleasant (and productive) day at St Mary Moorfields on Saturday. A white chalice veil for use at Guild of St Clare retreats has been completed;  

fraying fabric has been reinforced and carefully patched on a Roman Purple dalmatic;

a lace protector has been stitched on to the exquisite goldwork chasuble belonging to Canon Mark Hackeson of East Anglia diocese which completes repairs to the set;

and work continues on a deep red velvet chasuble belonging to the Latin Mass Society.

Sometimes volunteers bring along repairs from their own parishes for advice and support on materials and approach, and I'm always very happy to help with these. On this occasion we hosted some splendid things from the vestry of the London Oratory. 

Our autumn dates will be announced shortly; we'll meet again in September.