Religious vestments and other textiles

Religious vestments and other textiles

Fermo Cathedral in east central Italy houses a chasuble that reputedly belonged to St Thomas Becket, the English Bishop of Canterbury, who was murdered on 29 December 1170 and was canonised two years later, on 25 February 1173, by Pope Alexander III. The semicircular chasuble is 1.6 m high and has a circumference of 5.4 m. Its description as a chasuble is somewhat surprising, since its appearance is that of a cope.

The Fishmongers' Pall is a lavishly embroidered funeral pall created by nuns between 1512 and 1538, for the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, which still owns the cloth (Fishmongers' Hall). The four side panels of the pall are all fully covered with embroidery. The top is made of the richest Italian cloth of gold, while the sides are made of linen. The pall measures 232 x 56 cm.

The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam houses a fragment of a gold and silk embroidered orphrey (in Dutch: aurifries) that was made in the Netherlands and dates to c. AD 1550. The medallion contains an embroidered illustration of the Flight to Egypt. The fragment measures 47 x 21.5 cm and is worked in the or nué  style.

The Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin houses an embroidered prayer mat from Afghanistan. It measures 149 x 103 cm and is made of cotton.

The Georgian National Museum holds a late sixteenth or early seventeenth century mitre with images that represent the great festivals of the Georgian Christian Church. The mitre measures 28.5 x 19.5 cm.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a gold-embroidered mitre, made of silk and further decorated with gemstones, which was designed by Augustus W.N. Pugin (1812-1852) around 1848-1850, for the St. Augustine's Abbey, which Pugin had built on the grounds of his own house in Ramsgate. The mitre was probably produced by the firm of Lonsdale and Tylor.

The so-called Göss chasuble is a thirteenth century silk garment now housed in the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna, but originating from the former Benedictine abbey/convent of Göss (Stift Göss), in Styria, Austria. The convent itself was closed in 1782. This vestment and other pieces from the Abbey are generally ascribed to the Abbess Kunegunde (1265-1321) and were to be worn by priest, deacon and sub-deacon.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London holds a collection of objects that belonged to John Grandison (or Grandisson), Bishop of Exeter between 1327 and 1369, who before his appointment as Bishop worked for some time at the papal court at Avignon.

The Great Mantle of St. Kunigunde is an eleventh century garment that is now in the Diocesan Museum, Bamberg, Germany. It is associated with Queen Kunigunde of Luxembourg (c. 975-1040), the wife of Heinrich II (973-1024), who became the Holy Roman Emperor in 1014. The mantle is said to have been given to Bamberg Cathedral by St. Kunigunde.

The catholic Sint Petrus church (St Peter), along the Lammenschansweg in Leiden, The Netherlands, holds a beautifully embroidered chasuble that dates from the first half of the sixteenth century and is attributed to Jan van Deinse, who was abbott in Boudelo, Flanders, between 1513 tot 1540. The chasuble was granted to the Sint Petrus church in 1919 by an unknown benefactor.

A hassock is a small, padded rectangular wooden box with no legs, which some Christian groups use in church to rest their knees when kneeling, usually to pray. The top of a hassock may be covered with a canvas work embroidery using a variety of hardwearing stitches, such as cross stitch, trammed tent stitch or rice stitch.

The Hildesheim cope was made in Germany in the early fourteenth century. It has a canvas ground material made of linen, which is completely covered with needlework decoration. It measures 298  x 146 cm. The cope is particularly famous for the saints that are shown in gruesome detail with their particular method of martyrdom. The cope may derive from the St Simon and St Judas church, Goslar, Lower Saxony.

The sumptuous set of Hólar vestments, now housed in the National Museum of Iceland, are an example of the famous opus anglicanum, which during the medieval period formed an important English export product. The luxuriously embroidered garments, including an amice apparel), a stole (two fragments) and a maniple (two fragments), orginally belonged to the Cathedral church at Hólar.

The National Museum Twenthe, the Netherlands, houses a remarkable cloth with the representation of the crucifixion. It measures 300 x 300 cm, and was made of embroidered net lace. It dates to AD 1624. 

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses a hood of a cope. It dates to c. 1500-1525 and represents the Deathbed of Maria. It measures 50 x 51.5 cm. The embroidery is worked in silk and gold thread on a linen back ground. This is the famous or nué technique, which was very popular in the Netherlands and beyond in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses a delicately embroidered hood of a cope. It dates to c. 1525 and represents the Dispute between Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the Emperor Maxentius and the Philosophers. It measures 53 x 49 cm.

The Historical Museum of Berlin, Switzerland, houses various fragments of a cope, including the hood, which is embroidered with scenes of the Eucharist, as executed in the Devotio Moderna. This new development in the Catholic Church developed in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries in The Netherlands and Germany.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (London) houses a chasuble (acc. no. 743-1870) dating from the late seventeenth century, which is decorated with (Venetian) raised needle lace mounted on a red silk ground (this may be a Victorian mount). The floral motifs are separated by narrow bands with flower heads. All of the lace is worked in a linen thread.

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