Friday 20 October 2023

Museum Vestments: Amazing Tapestry and Opus Anglicanum

 Ancilla writes: Having recently had the privilege of going on pilgrimage to Italy I will present over a couple of posts some of the vestments I had the pleasure of coming across in museums. 

I had decided to do the Vatican Museum and knew it contained a piece of English work which I was excited to see but more about it later as the first set of vestments I came across were stunningly beautiful. 

The gold colour of the vestments shone brightly through even after all these years (and even with the annoying lighting and glass which made things difficult) and it must have been awe inspiring to see these being worn on Feast Days. The idea that what is happening must be important because of the clothes the people are wearing really comes through with this set. 

There was a plaque providing information for each piece. All are tapestry in silk and gilded silver made sometime between 1593-1597. The coat-of-arms seen on the Cope are of Pope Clement VIII.

After these I was getting near to the end of the museum since the gift shops were popping up and I began to worry I had somehow missed the Opus Anglicanum which I had so wanted to see. Then it appeared: The Vatican Cope. Produced in England between 1280-1300 and made of red silk twill with extensive embroidery containing various scenes and figures of Christianity.

I had seen photos but being up close made me understand the great beauty and skill of Englishwork. Wow. What surprised me is that is has this delicacy about it, a feel of lightness, almost playfulness. Maybe when England and its people were children of Mary and honoured Her, She imparted to them some of Her joy in Annunciation. May Our Lady of Walsingham help us make beautiful vestments and embroidery again!

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