Monday 7 August 2023

Vestment Relics

Ancilla writes: I had the pleasure of visiting Abbotsford being the home of Sir Walter Scott in the Scottish Borders right on the river Tweed. The estate was eventually inherited by his granddaughter Charlotte Harriet Jane Lockhart who married the barrister James Robert Hope. James was active in the Oxford Movement and became good friends with Cardinal St John Henry Newman. The couple converted to Catholicism and St Newman stayed at Abbotsford on several occasions.

Charlotte died in 1858 leaving a daughter Mary Monica whom Newman had known since her birth. They developed a close friendship, and it is to her that Newman left some of the vestments he had worn while celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass at Abbotsford. When Pope Benedict XVI toured Edinburgh these relics were displayed for His Holiness.

The Rose Vestments (could be Red maybe but as the ground fabric is a pinkish colour now it’s at least a way to define it) is thought to have a 16th Century embroidery on 18th Century silk fabric. The detail is exquisite. What now looks like grey threads is actually very fine gold thread, think imitation Japanese gold thread, and as far as I could tell this includes the floral details around the figures (the vestments are behind glass so difficult to inspect). Pity the front is not available to view. 

The Gold Vestment is 19th Century. It may not be visible from the photos but there is a bit of repair that needs doing on this set with threads frayed or missing and the stones falling off. The display included Newman’s biretta, a Roman Missal, and other relics.