Monday 13 February 2017

Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat: report

Our first ever sewing retreat finished yesterday, and I for one enjoyed myself enormously. With snow falling outside over the panoramic views of Oxfordshire countryside, an infinite supply of tea and biscuits and good company, what could be more agreeable than a weekend of sewing punctuated by traditional liturgy?

Fr Biggerstaff's Pelican in her Piety Humeral Veil

Fr Richard Biggerstaff set the tone with his delightful and perceptive talks on Service (represented by the Amice), Authority (represented by the stole) and the Distraction of the Laity (represented by the Chasuble). He celebrated Mass each day, as well as Compline and Benediction. He brought his own vestments, and I was particularly delighted by a beautiful Humeral Veil with the Pelican in her Piety embroidered on it.

Amanda and Liz at work on repairing the embroidered hood of a Cope

We had a wide range of vestments to mend, as well as a new Low Mass set commission to start work on. Different groups worked on repairs to the goldwork embroidery on a Cope, making new stole protectors for the necklines of various stoles and chasubles, unpicking old and damaged sections of silk in worn out chasubles in order to replace with new ones and patching up and old but beautiful and much loved cassock.

Retreatants at work on their embroidery samplers

We also had embroidery samplers to stitch; a pomegranate design often seen in liturgical settings, worked with a combination of surface embroidery stitches and goldwork techniques. It provided a welcome contrast to the hard work of unpicking, tacking and pinning that took up the rest of our time.

Fr Biggerstaff blesses the congregation with the Blessed Sacrament during Benediction. He is wearing the Humeral Veil pictured above

I was very grateful to the enthusiasm of the retreatants who participated, making it a truly cohesive community effort. In these difficult and confusing times for the Church we need the support of a strong Catholic community and it was moving to see the dedication of this particular group to their Faith and their commitment to assisting the Church in every way. Many thanks to all who participated.

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