Liturgical Art, History of
LITURGICAL ART, HISTORY OF
Part 1: Definition of Liturgical Art
The term liturgy is derived from the composite Greek word λειτουργία, meaning a public duty or a work undertaken by a citizen for the state. Today the term liturgy is applied to the public worship of the Church and is generally distinguished from private devotion, which occurs outside of the official community worship. The administration of Sacraments, the Mass, and public ritual are all part of the liturgy.
The fashioning of objects, such as vessels and vestments for liturgical use, and the programming of worship space, or the planning of the architecture of a church for liturgical worship are commonly designated liturgical art. The use of ritual and devotional objects is common in the rites also of religions other than Christianity and in cult ceremonies that go back to primitive times (see art, 1). This article confines itself to aspects of the use of art in Christian worship.
Terminology. The term liturgical art is often used interchangeably with the term sacred art (art sacré, ars sacra ). However the term sacred art, in current usage, tends to overflow the boundaries of what is more restrictively called liturgical art. The term liturgical has a precision that is not shared by the obscure term sacred. All liturgical art are sacred, but not all sacred art are liturgical.
The use of the term sacred art is carried over from the Tridentine interest in sacred image when the concern was more strictly de sacris imaginibus. The term was applied to images or representations of sacred subjects that were set aside for devotional purposes; these were distinguished from paintings and images of subjects that were profane (profanum, e.g., not devoted to religious ends). The concern of the council was twofold: (1) to uphold the legitimate use of images for devotional purposes and (2) to purge existing abuses (and prevent additional ones) that tended to introduce a questionable iconography into religious art. The council wished to exclude what was profane (profanum ) and immodest (inhonestum ) from the churches because pagan iconographic themes became common during the Renaissance and often found their way into churches. It wished, furthermore, to restrict unusual innovations (the insolitum ) in the representation of dogma (e.g., that of the Trinity) because heretical interpretations easily crept in. The question was not one of style or aesthetics but of subject matter (iconography). It was fidelity to these Tridentine principles that encouraged the extreme caution of the succeeding period regarding innovation in art and architecture. By the end of the 19th century, with fidelity to "historical styles" prevailing, ars sacra within the Catholic Church was channeled in a mode of artistic production quite distinct from modern movements of art in general. The separation of general artistic currents from that kind of art used in churches created the understanding that art in the service of religion has a unique character inherent in its style and form that makes it "sacred" as distinct from the "profane."
With the introduction of modern art and architecture into churches, the term sacred came to be applied indiscriminately to elements of art and architecture that serviced the Church. Within the modern liturgical movement both in the U.S. and Europe this usage has been relatively common in descriptive expressions such as "sacred space," "sacred inwardness," and "sacral meaning." Such usage has led some to lodge a sacredness or an undefined sense of the sacred in objects, decoration, and architectural space that has an implied religious value. The term sacred, which was earlier applied to a distinction of subject matter, has come to be applied to the art form itself. The undefined "sense of the sacred" provides a tenuous basis for the scope of usage of the term; as a consequence sacred has been used to include meditative garden sculpture and abstract compositions that, however suitable, may or may not be employed in places of worship (e.g., some works in the Exposition Internationale d'Art Sacré, Royan, France, 1964).
More loosely employed are the terms "Christian art" and "religious art," which can be understood only within the context of the intentions and understanding of their users. Generally the term Christian art is applied
broadly to artistic production by and for Christians in cultures predominantly Christian; such art might be quite removed from immediate devotional or ritual ends (e.g., a pilgrim's water flask). The term "religious art" is used even more universally and often takes on the sense of art sacré in its wider meaning, designating any art that is perceived to have some religious interest. (For consideration of the concept of a Christian art see art, 2.)
The term liturgical art might properly be understood in the same sense as the term sacred art in the constitution issued by Vatican II (chapter 7); it refers to art that is in the service of the official worship of the Church. So understood, the term extends not only to objects and vesture but also to the plastic arts and architecture. Thus a painting by A. Manessier hanging in the Museum of Modern Art in Paris is not a work of liturgical art, but it may be if it is transferred to a sanctuary space as suitable articulation for a sanctuary wall. A medieval water flask may have an ornamental iconographic theme articulated in the same character as that of a chalice; the chalice is proper subject matter to liturgical art whereas the flask is not.
Function. Liturgical art is determined in part by its functions. It serves to create the instruments and places of worship used for the liturgy. The sacred vessels, the altar, and the distribution of elements in the worship space itself are all specified to some extent by their instrumental service. Art may serve also to create the appropriate signs or images related to devotion; these are determined somewhat by their significative functions (cross, icon). Often liturgical items are both instrumental and significative (the baptismal font, the altar). When either the significative or instrumental function of a liturgical object is not realized in the work then it falls short of its characterization as liturgical art. Liturgical art assumes the burden of serving a function that is larger than the specific ends of the art engaged in fashioning it. A fine art engaged for the service of liturgy fills a function proper to worship that is not possible to it, for example, in a gallery. The larger function given to liturgical art is to serve the specific needs of public worship and private devotion. The artist himself may not, by reason of his art, fix the functions of liturgical art, though he might, by the combining of his perception of liturgical needs and his artistic sensibility, create a more complete or useful realization than was earlier employed.
The function of liturgical art may not be known by the disciplines of art and architecture in themselves. Just as the architect expects to be supplied with specific information concerning the needs and purpose of a research laboratory he might build, so also does he rightly expect that the Church will specify the needs and purposes of its liturgy for the church he might build. The architect and artist, understanding these ends, may then create adequate solutions according to their proper creative abilities and skills. It is for this reason that clarifications have been issued concerning the use of image and the functions of elements in the church; these instructions, discussed below have the function of pointing out the needs of the liturgy for the understanding of the pastor, the artist, and the architect.
In recent times such instruction has become necessary since often professional designers and builders are employed from a society that is not oriented to the needs of the Christian community. Furthermore, modern technical abilities along with architectural and artistic theory of the past hundred years have posed problems that have affected religious art considerably.
[r. j. verostko/eds.]
Part 2: Legislation before Vatican II
An important piece of legislation published in recent years was the instruction De arte sacra issued by the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office on June 30, 1952. Since this document was meant to be a summary of the legislation on sacred art in force at the time, it may serve as a point of reference for the subject up until its date of issuance.
The opening paragraph of the instruction defined sacred art in terms of its function: "It is the function of sacred art … to enhance the beauty of the house of God and to foster the faith and piety of those who gather in the church to assist at the divine service and to implore heavenly favors." The instruction then expressed the same ideas in a negative manner by recalling St. Pius X's remarks in his motu proprio on liturgical music, Tra le sollecitudini (Nov. 22, 1903): "Nothing should have a place in the church which disturbs or even merely diminishes the piety and devotion of the faithful, nothing which reasonably might be considered in bad taste or be the cause of scandal, nothing which might be unworthy of the house of prayer and the majesty of God."
This pastoral attitude of the Church toward sacred art has been at the core of its instruction throughout the centuries. The instruction De arte sacra cited the action of the Council of Nicaea II (787) in condemning the Iconoclasts and confirming the cult of sacred images (see iconoclasm). It also mentioned session 25 (1563) of the Council of Trent, which issued directives on Christian iconography, as well as the norms of Pope Urban VIII issued on March 15, 1642, providing for the execution of the decrees of the Council of Trent. The council had concluded its exhortation to the bishops with these words: "Let bishops exercise much diligence and care concerning these matters, that nothing disordered may meet the eye, nothing distorted and confused in execution, nothing unfitting and unbecoming, since sanctity belongs to the house of God."
The instruction then listed the canons of the 1917 Code of Canon Law that gathered all the ecclesiastical legislation on sacred art under summary headings: canons 485, 1161, 1162, 1164, 1178, 1261, 1268, 1269.n1, 1279, 1280, 1385, 1399. Special mention was made of the prescriptions of canon 1261, which obliges ordinaries to see that nothing foreign to the faith or not in harmony with ecclesiastical tradition be introduced into divine worship, and canon 1399.n12, which prohibits the production of all images that are foreign to the mind and decrees of the Church. In the event that there be any doubt that contemporary art has a legitimate place in the liturgy, the instruction recalled the words of Pius XI on the occasion of the inauguration of the new Vatican Gallery of Paintings (Oct. 27, 1932): "open wide the portals and tender sincere welcome to every good and progressive development of the approved and venerable traditions, which in so many centuries of Christian life, in such diversity of circumstances and of social and ethnic conditions, have given stupendous proof of their inexhaustible capacity of inspiring new and beautiful forms."
The instruction also adverted to the words of Pius XII in Mediator Dei (Nov. 20, 1947) on the place of contemporary
art in the liturgy. While confirming the place of modern art in sacred edifices and rites, Pius XII reproved those images and forms that were contrary to Christian piety, but there was no clarification of what forms these might be. After reasserting these points, the instruction proceeded to enumerate a number of nebulous directives of its own, first concerning architecture and then concerning descriptive art.
Besides the instruction issued by the Holy See on sacred art several episcopal directives were formulated after World War II to serve as a guide to church construction. Most important and earliest of these, usually referred to as the directives of the German bishops, was an official document entitled Richtlinien für die Gestaltung des Gotteshauses aus dem Geiste der römischen Liturgie (Liturgical Institute, Trier 1947). The document was drawn up by T. Klauser in collaboration with the liturgical commission appointed by the German bishops. This document not only influenced the rebuilding of churches in postwar Germany, but served as a valuable guide to diocesan liturgical commissions elsewhere. The directive clarifies five fundamental purposes of the Christian church and presents 21 concise conclusions based on theological and liturgical principles that bear importantly
on church architecture. A similar directive based on the German one and resembling it in outline was issued by the diocesan commission at Superior, Wis., in 1957 (Diocesan Church-Building Directives ). The German document and the Superior document are presented with a brief commentary in the appendix to Towards a Church Architecture, ed. P. Hammond (London 1962) 245–262.
In April of 1952 the French hierarchy issued a directive in 11 short articles. This directive, however, was not an instruction on church building like the German one, but concerned itself more with the plastic arts and the role of the artist.
[r. k. seasoltz/
r. j. verostko/eds.]
Part 3: Twentieth-Century Renewal Efforts
In Western Christian cultures art and architecture in general underwent radical changes following the Counter Reformation. Art was affected not only by the advent of modern technical abilities but also by the shifting of philosophical thought, the growth of the city, mass communications, and modern economic systems. After the mid-19th century the artistic world was in the upheaval of the disagreements between the academies and the independents, and the force of creative thinking that was to mold 20th-century art and architecture grew independently of institutional patronage, often opposing the Church. The 19th-century revivalisms in church architecture such as that of pugin, the attempts to revive the simple purity of Christian fresco painting by the Nazarenes, and the efforts of the later 19th-century beuronese school all failed to initiate the regeneration of religious art and architecture.
Separation of Art and the Church. By the turn of the century independent creative thinking had prepared the way for radical innovations in the art and architecture of the 20th century. In architecture F. L. Wright had already built homes on the freely spread ground plan (1890s), and L. H. Sullivan's skeletal structure in the Carson, Pirie, Scott & Company building in Chicago (1899–1904) had already broken with tradition. While skeletal structure and free space were successfully experimented with in America, the early work of T. Garnier (1861–1948) and A. perret led to the design of structures of genuine and specific character. Garnier's work in Rome in 1901 was directed toward the new industrial city; it was exhibited in 1904 and published in 1917. Efforts in architecture and industrial design by de Stijl, the Bauhaus, etc. were independent of any ecclesiastical patronage or interest. Similarly the plastic arts had already assimilated the contributions of the Impressionists and the Postimpressionists by the turn of the century; Fauvism, German Expressionism, Cubism, and Futurism all preceded World War I and contributed to a transforming vision that widened the gap between the art world in general and the Church. The failure of the Church to patronize creative art in its places of worship and the seeming indifference of ecclesiastics to the progress being made by modern art and architecture in general shaped a reaction within Christianity early in the century.
Renewal Efforts up to World War II. At the end of the 19th century the Spaniard A. Gaudí undertook at Barcelona the grandiose Sagrada Familia (still under construction), which, beyond its reminders of the past, opened the way to imaginative church construction. At the same time painters, following the insights provided by Gauguin and Cézanne, investigated the possibilities of renewing the treatment of religious themes. This earliest attempt led to the establishment in Paris after World War I of several studios of sacred art; here Maurice Denis and Georges Desvallières attempted to liberate Christian art.
It was not until after World War I that the French architect Auguste Perret built the first decidedly modern church, at Raincy, near Paris. In its construction, reinforced concrete was used on the basis of its functional adaptability and was successfully shaped to fit the needs of a program of worship. Denis and Bourdelle were called on to participate in the realization of the work.
At the same time two German architects contributed their efforts: Dominikus Böhm in the renewal of architectural expressionism and Otto Bartning in that of architectural rationalism.
In Switzerland K. Moser, at Saint-Antoine in Basel, continued the construction principles of A. Perret and trained pupils whose works would contribute to the future of church architecture. The churches that Fritz Metzger and Hermann Baur designed in German-speaking Switzerland from 1930 on, in particular at Zurich and Basel, inspired in other countries a type of rectangular building with plain walls, flanked by a chimney-like bell tower. These churches were characterized by a purity of line, a precision of volume, and a brightness of space, all of which accommodated the liturgical disposition of the interior. They created a style that was often repeated in modern church building.
These churches and certain works of art, such as stained-glass windows, paintings, and statues that were created to be used in them, were the occasion of the first controversies over modern religious art. A quarrelsome climate, with its collision between partisans and adversaries of "modern sacred art," surrounded also the creative work of A. Cingria in French Switzerland; M. Denis, J. Barillet, and Le Chevallier in France; Thorn Pryker in Germany; and Joep Nicolas in Holland. In France and central Europe the movements initiated shortly after the turn of the 20th century (expressionism, Cubism, and even pure abstraction) had made considerable progress by 1914. The artists mentioned above, active after World War I, served only to bridge the gap that separated artistic progress in general from the Church.
Renewal Efforts after 1945. It was not until after World War II that a decisive confrontation took place between modern art and the Church. The periodical L'Art sacré, founded in 1935 by Joseph Pichard, which from before the war had been the organ for much activity in modern sacred art, published important postwar studies by the Dominican Fathers P. couturier and P. Régamey. These pointed the way to new possibilities. They encouraged the construction of several chapels, which, while of modest dimensions, quickly acquired worldwide renown because of their bold though sensitive innovations in the retarded area of religious art. At assy, in a chapel serving several Alpine sanatoriums, a host of artists was engaged: P. Bonnard, G. Rouault, G. Braque, F. Léger, H. Matisse, Germaine Richier, J. Lipchitz, M. Chagall, and J. Lurçat. At Audincourt, in a working-class neighborhood, Léger and J. Bazaine contributed abstract compositions in stained glass and mosaic to the church of the Sacred Heart. At the same time Matisse initiated work on the chapel at vence that was to contribute to the growing modern sensibility. The architect Le Corbusier began the chapel of ronchamp, which provided an unparalleled articulation of sanctuary space and light. Most of these accomplishments were realized (directly or indirectly) through the work of Father Couturier.
It was a time when plans for building or rebuilding churches were being undertaken; many had been seriously damaged or destroyed during the war, especially in France and Germany. Special commissions for historical monuments were able to take charge of the more ancient churches (Romanesque, Gothic) that could be restored. For the others it was necessary to rebuild. At the same time the growth of cities, with the formation on their outskirts of entirely new working-class districts, required the preparation of building programs that included new churches. Especially important as a guide, in regard to contemporary styles and the liturgy, were the directives of the German bishops (1947). Postwar church building was significant in Germany in Cologne, Berlin, and Frankfurt; in France, major churches were rebuilt at Le Havre, Brest, Lorient, Royan, and Baccarat, and many smaller churches were begun; in England, a new coventry cathedral was constructed.
Two contrasting trends were in evidence in postwar church architecture. On the one hand, the functional rationalism that Perret, Bartning, and the Swiss architects had promoted in the period between the world wars was continued; on the other hand, a search for expressive forms, especially after 1950, developed both in the Americas and in Europe.
Architects who worked in the more functionalist and rationalist style were not only Swiss; there were in France, Le Donné, Pinsard, Pierre Vago, the brothers Arsène and Henry Lods, and Maurice Novarina (who was interested at the same time in regionalism); in the U.S., Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Ciampi, M. Breuer; and in Germany, R. Schwarz and Emil Steffann (who was particularly attached to simple and austere designs).
Among those who introduced the expressive into architecture, Le Corbusier must be given first place as demonstrated in his church of Ronchamp (completed 1955) and later in the monastery of L'Arbresle, near Lyons. These works achieved a new flexibility in concrete disciplined by a mature knowledge of human elements and physical processes (light, structural forces, landscape) and adjusted well to liturgical and monastic needs. Among others who searched for plastic expression were: in France, Guillaume Gillet (Royan), Rouquet (Metz and Nantes), N. Kazis (Baccarat), Bourbonnais, and Perrouin (around Paris); in Germany, Hans Schädel (Berlin), D. Böhm, and J. Lehmbrock; in Finland, Aalvar Aalto; and in the Americas, Frank Lloyd Wright (U.S.), F. Candela (Mexico), and O. Niemeyer (Brazil).
The plastic arts had preceded architecture in their religious interest, but necessarily followed architecture in actual use within the church. The curiosity and emotion stirred up by the chapels at Assy and Vence provided ground for intelligent inquiry into the appropriate use of modern styles in the Church. At the same time the Church became receptive to modern styles in painting and sculpture (1952 instruction De arte sacrale ). For more than 50 years artistic movements in general had tended to liberate the plastic arts from any representational function. By the mid-century artists were engaged with pure abstract art that sought expressive value in structure and response to plastic values (color, light, spontaneous calligraphy, etc.). First adaptations of abstraction in churches occurred notably in stained glass, which easily abandoned narration and iconography to concentrate on the creation of a suitable atmosphere through controlled design of light. Abstract reliefs and paintings emerged also in an effort to give plastic articulation to interior and exterior surfaces; J. Bazaine, A. Manessier, Léon Zack, G. Meistermann,P. Szekely, and many others were active in this regard.
The Americas. The efforts to renew liturgical art did not occur in Europe alone. The work of Virgil michel (1890–1938) with the liturgical movement led to an awareness of the importance of religious art at st. john's abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota, which was to make that abbey a center of renewal in the U.S. More important was the work of the liturgical arts society (founded in 1928). Both before and after the war its publication, Liturgical Arts, and the personal efforts of its secretary-editor, Maurice lavanoux, served to create a liaison between those interested in renewal in religious art and ecclesiastics. Through the lectures and articles of M. Lavanoux and others a climate had been created for the years following World War II that made significant progress possible. As early as 1946 the renovation of the basilica crypt at st. vincent archabbey (Latrobe, Pa.) was carried out through the efforts of Father Quentin Schaut, including a remarkable series of 14 stained-glass windows by Emil Frei.
Though the mediocrity of derivative modernism occurred in liturgical ornamentation and church architecture during the 1940s and 1950s, a number of significant projects were undertaken. Most notable of these was the abbey church at St. John's (Collegeville, built in 1960 but planned earlier) by Marcel Breuer. This project included careful planning and articulation of every detail in terms of liturgical need and architectural expression. A number of monastic projects quickly followed the pattern of renewal that issued from St. John's: Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum designed the St-Louis Priory of St. Mary Church (1962), and P. Belluschi (b. 1899) designed the Priory of St. Gregory the Great, Portsmouth, R.I. (1961), which includes the sculpture above the altar by R. Lippold. Of note also are the St. Mary Abbey Church and Monastery at Morristown, N.J. (1965), by Victor Christ-Janer, and the new St. Vincent Monastery, Latrobe, Pa., by Tasso Katselis. Contributions in Latin America were made by O. Niemeyer (b. 1907) and L. Costa (b. 1902),F. Candela (b. 1910), and E. de la Mora y Palomar.
Painting and sculpture in the service of church architecture have made less progress in the U.S. than in Europe. In general the postwar tendency has been to employ in churches a kind of pseudomodern articulation of figural work that is partly Cubist or expressionistic and sometimes primitive. With few exceptions the main currents of the artistic world have been either misunderstood or avoided by patrons of liturgical art in the U.S. (e.g., abstract expressionism and recent programmed art). However, the recent consultant work of F. Kacmarcik (St. Paul, Minnesota) has managed to point a direction by engaging J. Albers to design an abstract altar screen (St. Patrick's, Oklahoma City) and stained glass (St. John's, abbot's chapel). Others, not mentioned above, who have contributed promising conceptions are M. Goeritz (Mexico, stained glass), H. Bertoia (Massachusetts Institute of Technology chapel, sculpture), J. Reynal (mosaic), A. Rattner (stained glass), and Sister Mary Corita (illuminated texts).
Bibliography: a. cingria, La Décadence de l'art sacré (Paris 1919; new ed. 1930). m. denis, Nouvelles théories sur l'art moderne, sur l'art sacré, 1914–1921 (Paris 1922). j. kreitmaier, Beuroner Kunst: Eine Ausdrucksform der christlichen Mystik (5th ed. Freiburg 1923). m. brillant, L'Art chrétien en France au XX e siécle (Paris 1927). e. gill, Art-Nonsense and Other Essays (London 1929). m. a. couturier, Art et catholicisme (Paris 1948). r. hess, Moderne kirchliche Kunst in der Schweiz (Zurich 1951). p. r. rÉgamey, La Querelle de l'art sacré: Assy et Vence (Paris 1951); Religious Art in the Twentieth Century (New York 1963). m. ochsÉ, La Nouvelle querelle des images (Paris 1953). j. pichard, L'Art sacré moderne (Paris 1953). g. j. auvert, Défense et illustration de l'art sacré (Paris 1956). a. henze and t. filthaut, Contemporary Church Art, ed. m. lavanoux, tr. c. hastings (New York 1956). a. henze, Neue kirchliche Kunst (Recklinghausen 1958). j. pichard, Images de l'invisible (Tournai 1958). w. weyres and o. bartning, eds., Kirchen: Handbuch für den Kirchenbau (Munich 1959). m. ochsÉ, Un Art sacré pour notre temps (Paris 1959). w.s. rubin, Modern Sacred Art and the Church of Assy (New York 1961). a. christ-janer and m. m. foley, Modern Church Architecture (New York 1962), illus., bibliog. with each section. g. mercier, L'Art abstrait dans l'art sacré (Paris 1964) includes app. of directives, bibliog. 219–228. g. e. kidder smith, The New Churches of Europe (New York 1964). r. sowers, Stained Glass: An Architectural Art (New York 1965), ch. on content, notes. Periodicals and yearbooks. Ars sacra (Basel 1927–). Jahrbücher der Deutschen Gesellschaft für christliche Kunst (Munich 1951–). Kunst und Kirche (Berlin 1924–). L'Art d'église (Bruges 1932–), Eng. summaries. L'Art sacré (Paris 1935–39; 1946–). Liturgical Arts (New York 1931–). Das Münster (Munich 1947–). Chiesa e quartiere (Bologna 1957–). Arte cristiana (Milan 1913–). Art Chrétien (Paris 1934–). Catholic Art Quarterly (Buffalo 1937–59), superseded by Good Work (1959–). Christliche Kunstblatt (Munich 1904–). Fede e arte (Vatican City 1953–). Módulo (Rio de Janeiro 1955–). Formes sacrées (Lombreuil 1964–), trimestrial.
r. j. verostko/eds.]
Part 4: Renewal Societies
The growth of the liturgical movement effected the establishment of a number of organizations concerned with the spirit and function of the arts as employed in the service of the Church in the age of 20th-century liturgical renewal. Better known among these renewal societies during this period were: the Central Pontifical Commission for Sacred Art in Italy (founded by Pius XI, 1924; Msgr. Giovanni Fallani, president); the liturgical arts society, New York (founded 1933, Maurice Lavanoux, secretary); Pro Civitate Christiana (founded 1939, Giovanni Rossi, president); and Istituto internazionale di arte liturgica (International Institute of Liturgical Art), Rome (founded 1954 by Vittorino Veronese). Essentially concerned with the arts (architecture, sculpture, painting, and other liturgical objects, these groups generally attempted to promote a more intelligent church patronage of the arts. Their most common aim was to provide commentary and direction for those engaged in building and decorating places of public worship. Such work has become more meaningful since the publication of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Dec. 4, 1963; ch. 7).
In the U.S. the most important single influence in creating a consciousness of need for renewal in liturgical art until its demise in 1972 was the Liturgical Arts Society (and its active editor-secretary, Maurice Lavanoux); the liturgical conference, though not specifically oriented to art, became important for auxiliary conferences and exhibitions at its annual meetings after 1940.
The rise of a more art-conscious public in the U.S. caused groups founded for apostolic purposes at various levels of society to develop, within their structures, committees or sections that concentrated on evangelization through various art media. In the early post-World War II years, the grail (founded in the Netherlands, 1920 and U.S., 1940) encouraged local artists to work in religious themes by providing exhibit space (and consequently forums and markets) in the Grail shops. Associations of professional artists and art educators also attempted to implement the spirit of the Liturgical Movement. Such associations were: the Catholic Art Association (founded 1937), which published the quarterly Good Work; the Catholic Fine Arts Society (founded 1955, an association of college and secondary school educators, and artists); and finally the National Conference of Catholic Art Educators (an offshoot and almost a branch of the National Art Education Association, a secular group of professional art educators).
Bibliography: j. karlin, "Contemporary Art and the Church in Italy," Liturgical Arts 30.1 (1961) 26–28. See also collective statement of aims issued in the 1960s by the Istituto internazionale di arte liturgica (Rome).
[b. t. lucey/eds.]
Part 5: Impact of Vatican II.
As a pastoral guide to the teaching, doctrine, and theory in regard to the promotion and reform of the liturgy the fathers of Vatican Council II issued the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Dec. 4, 1963). Chapter 7 of this document concerns itself with the role of liturgical art in the first phase of the Church's reform, the renewal of worship.
There are two other documents that provide a fuller understanding of the meaning of chapter 7 of the constitution. One, usually referred to as the "appendix," contains declarations of the preparatory commission for a clearer explanation of certain constitution articles; the "appendix" to article 128 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy is of particular importance because it serves as a basis of interpretation for chapter 7 and also as background for other instruction on liturgical art that has been, or will be, issued by the Liturgical Commission. The instruction of Sept. 26, 1964, was issued to implement effectively what was broadly outlined by the council; chapter 5 of this instruction provides the first official implementation of article 128 of the Constitution.
Thus three documents are directly relevant to liturgical art and the renewal issuing from Vatican Council II:(1) chapter 7 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy; (2) the appendix to article 128 of that Constitution (an appended illustration on the meaning of the text); and (3) chapter 5 of the instruction of Sept. 26, 1964, issued by the Liturgical Commission.
In regard to the interpretation and understanding of these documents two factors must be kept in mind: (1) the norms and regulations issued in regard to art in the liturgical renewal attempt to give official expression to the principles and doctrine underlying the structure of the liturgy: (2) meaningful employment of the norms can come only from a study of the reasons for which they were issued in the context of the aggiornamento. The practical implications of the "appendix" to article 128 and the instruction of Sept. 26, 1964, are discussed under section 5 below.
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, (CSL) although chapter 7 on sacred art is brief (articles 122–130), contains a number of valuable clarifications that may be summarized as follows:
1. A strong point concerns style. "The Church has not adopted any particular style of art as her very own"; free scope is to be given to contemporary art of every race and region provided it serves with due reverence the holy rites and the enrichment of sacred buildings (CSL 123).2.
Veneration of images is to be maintained by the faithful but the sacred images placed in the church are to be moderate in number; relative positions of images, when used, are to reflect an order that does not create confusion among Christian people; neither should it foster devotion of doubtful orthodoxy (CSL 125).
3. Noble beauty rather than sumptuous display is to be sought. Works that are mediocre or pretentious and those which offend true religious sense or are repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety are to be carefully removed from churches by the bishops (CSL 124).
4. When churches are to be built care is to be taken to implement the celebration of liturgy and the participation of the faithful (CSL 124). Statutes and regulations concerning the building and appointment of furnishings in the church are to be revised for this purpose. "Laws which seem less suited to the reformed liturgy are to be brought into harmony with it, or else abolished; and any which are helpful are to be retained if already in use, or introduced where they are lacking" (CSL 128). The instruction of Sept. 26, 1964, was the first official implementation of this article. Chapter 5 of this instruction concerned itself mainly with the construction of the church and the appointment of its furnishings in order to facilitate the active participation of the faithful. These instructions form a basis for flexibility in building in anticipation of changes yet to come. As a working principle, older legislation and instruction was to be viewed in the light of the reformed liturgy and the instruction issued thus far.
5. Judgments on works of art are not a personal matter. The local ordinary is to give hearing to a diocesan commission on sacred art, which is to include experts on art (CSL 126.44, 45).
6. To facilitate sound judgment and appreciation in matters of sacred art, clerics are to be taught its history and development during their philosophical and theological studies (CSL 129). Bishops are enjoined to have a special concern for artists (CSL 127) and see to it that works of value are preserved (CSL 126).
Summary. In viewing the instruction and legislation of the Church in regard to sacred art it is important to bear in mind the reason for which the instruction was issued. The councils of Nicaea (787), Constantinople (869–870), and the 25th session of Trent (1563) all concerned themselves with problems related to the use of images. Instruction was issued to uphold the legitimate and healthy use of images for devotional purpose against those who would deny their use (see images, veneration of). Where abuses were prevalent, such as iconographic schemes that threatened the understanding of doctrine or excesses of imagery that might introduce superstition and false worship, the Church issued clarifications to protect Christian doctrine and piety. None of this legislation provides judgment of quality or aesthetic and stylistic norms since such judgment is neither the intention nor the province of the fathers. Both older and recent instruction has, at root, a pastoral concern.
More recent instruction has concerned itself with the function of liturgy and the critical role of art in the proper fulfillment of that function. Consequently there is a greater interest in architecture. The concern of the earlier councils over images has been replaced in the 20th century by a concern over the intelligent employment of new artistic abilities in the liturgy. With the advent of abstract art another kind of question has been posed in regard to image. Also new concepts and abilities with regard to architectural space have appeared in church architecture (see church architecture, history of, 1). Vatican II clearly did not wish to frustrate healthy progress in the intelligent use of contemporary abilities (LCS 123). Subsequent norms and instructions attempted to maintain a flexibility that embraces the wealth of contemporary creative thought, and in a way that would complement and fulfill the proper function of the liturgy.
Bibliography: k. b. frank, Fundamental Questions on Ecclesiastical Art, tr. m. nathe (Collegeville, MN 1962), pt. 2 gives account of instructions up to the 1952 document. "La legislazione ecclesiastica sull'arte," Fede e Arte nos. 10–11 (Oct.–Nov. 1957), special issue with pertinent acts of the popes, council decrees, and acts of the Roman Congregation up to 1957. Congregation of the Holy Office, On Sacred Art (Instruction, June 30, 1952), Acta Apostolicae Sedis 44.10 (1952) 542–546. Vatican Council II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, ch. 7, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 56.2 (1964) 130–133; Eng. ed. g. sloyan (Glen Rock, N.J. 1964). Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instructio, ch. 5 (Sept. 26, 1964) Acta Apostolicae Sedis 56.14 (Nov. 10, 1964) 897–900. f. r. mcmanus, "Recent Documents on Church Architecture," in Church Architecture: The Shape of Reform (Washington 1965), proceedings of a meeting on church architecture conducted by the Liturgical Conference in Cleveland, Feb. 23–25, 1965, includes app. of the recent documents, 95–104. r. k. seasoltz, The House of God: Sacred Art and Architecture (New York 1963).
[r. j. verostko/eds.]
Part 6: Church Furnishing
The furnishing of the church is directly related to its architecture since the total ensemble of the edifice and the program of worship elements are necessarily interdependent. Although this mutual reliance of liturgical function and architectural conception has always been important in the appointment of church furniture it has become more relevant since the turn of the century, owing to two almost parallel modern movements: the new phase in the development of architecture and design and renovation within the Church of its liturgy.
Modern Art and Architecture. Modern architecture has an increase of possibilities at its disposal for the articulation of space. The flexibility of reinforced concrete, the visual openness provided by the use of glass, and the strength of steel and new alloys all contributed to a technical facility that enabled designers to add new structural procedures to the old, or in some cases to substitute them. There has been considerable speculation in architectural theory concerning the integrity of form and its relationship to function (L. Sullivan, F. Wright, and Le Corbusier; see church architecture, history of,1). The influence of this thinking on industrial design has been felt especially in the work of the Bauhaus and men such as L. Moholy-Nagy and the Saarinens. Modern theory and technical capacities have contributed to radical changes in the structure and design of architecture, furniture, and mass-produced items. Their effects have been felt also in liturgical art and bear on the design of many elements of the church.
Division of the Arts. Permanent utility elements that were formerly designed by the artists of their separate crafts have become rather the domain of the architect whose architectural forms evolve from the nuances of function and the architect's sensitivity to plastic qualities. Thus the structure, disposition, and design, for example, of altar, confessionals, pews, entry and exit systems, and lighting systems are considered an integral part of the architectural conception. Yet the design of these elements cannot proceed without a clear understanding of their purposes and interrelationship. The role of the liturgist in this regard is discussed below.
Although painting, sculpture, and the minor arts continue to maintain their distinctive abilities and qualities, their interchange on the conceptual level makes the differences between them less discernible. Thus the Rosary Chapel at vence by H. Matisse has been referred to as a painter's architecture. The passage from painterly conception to architectural conception is hardly noticeable in the organic totality of the structure. An example of what is referred to at times as architectural sculpture is the shrine chapel at ronchamp by Le Corbusier. Light apertures, altar, pew units, and sanctuary cross all participate in the interior sculptural sense; on the outside the water spill, the outdoor altar, and the pulpit are an organic part of the structure that may be viewed for its sculptural qualities. The metal altarscreen by H. Bertoia in the chapel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology creates a sanctuary environment from the interaction of architecture and sculpture. The use by A. Manessier of stained glass for a wall in the chapel at Hem is conceived architecturally to create a suitable light environment for the nave.
Because of the interrelationship of artistic conceptualization and liturgical function, the intelligent appointment of furnishings can proceed only on the basis of organic solutions achieved through the cooperation of designer, architect, and liturgist.
Ornamentation and Expression. Modern architects rarely give specific expression to a structure through ornamentation that represents narrative, descriptive, or historical subjects. The artist tends to derive expressive strength from the character of materials and the plastic or spatial articulation of the functions and quality of the structural elements themselves; this is applied to the creation of chalice, tabernacle, church pew, and vestment as well as to architecture.
Function includes the significative and spiritual purposes of specific liturgical elements. Joint efforts of liturgists and architects after World War II (especially in Germany and France) attempted to create a church architecture with all its appointments that would at once serve liturgical needs and be expressive of the purpose of this service. The altar, for example, was given its signification through the architectural disposition and the strength of its form; the main altar in R. Schwarz's church of Maria Königin (Saarbrücken, 1959) receives the focus of light and centrality to the assembly so that its significative presence is seen in the actuality of itself. Without further explication it becomes a fitting symbol of Christ in the strong architectural statement of a table around which the assembly is gathered for the Eucharistic service.
Relevance of the Liturgical Movement. In regard to church furnishing there are two abilities of fundamental importance that must be distinguished. On the one hand, the architect has the special knowledge, sensitivity, and ability necessary to create structures and establish the internal relationship of worship spaces. In doing so he is able to make such relationships meaningful to the degree that he has understood the function of the liturgy he serves. On the other hand the liturgist has the special knowledge of the precise purpose of liturgy, but this knowledge does not give him the ability to perceive how an architectural solution might be best realized. The role of the liturgist in the design and appointment of a specific church building is to relate the total complex of liturgical functions to the particular place where it will be performed; the aim of the architect and designer is to create adequate functional and aesthetic solutions in terms of their special creative abilities.
Just as the arts of architecture, painting, and sculpture are intimately related to the sensibilities of the specific cultural milieu where they are created, so also is the liturgy, which presupposes a dynamic prayer life with a ritual center whose form receives specification from the cultural milieu where it is actualized. The view of the dynamic aspect of the liturgy and thus of its adaptability to modern times grew clearer owing to the liturgical movement, which early in the 20th century presented the liturgy as a source for the formation of Christian life. The restoration of this view was initiated by pius x (motu proprio, Nov. 22, 1903) and received an important impetus through the proposals of Dom Lambert beauduin at a national Catholic congress at Malines in 1909. In his lecture ("Il faudroit democratiser la liturgie") he explained the importance of taking practical measures to live the liturgy in order to share the life of Christ in His body, the Church. The subsequent work of the Liturgical Movement to create a more effectual liturgy was pioneered in Europe by P. parsch, R. guardini, J. jungmann, Odo casel, and I. herwegen, and in the U.S. at Collegeville, Minn., by Virgil michel. In his essay Art Principle of the Liturgy [tr. W. Busch (Collegeville 1931) 16] Herwegen noted that "the idea of Christian transfiguration is the artprinciple of the liturgy." In order to realize the transforming power of the liturgy it was necessary to re-form community worship on livable terms. Work was begun to free the liturgy of irrelevant historicisms, the language barrier (Latin), and burdensome minutiae of rubrics whose functions were no longer meaningful. Concomitant with the advance of the movement was the rediscovery of the Bible and Biblical theology, which complemented the liturgy.
The relevance of the new findings to the programming of the worship elements in the Church was first felt, on a broad scale, in the rebuilding in Europe after World War II, particularly in Germany, where new church construction was greatly affected by the 1947 "Directives for the Building of a Church" approved by the German bishops. Of the 21 succinct articles, the first sums up the several purposes of the building according to their relative importance, noting the Eucharistic celebration as primary. The third article focuses on the problem of crucial importance for liturgist, architect, and designer:
These various purposes [e.g., Eucharistic celebration] which the church building must serve present a peculiar problem in its construction. The Eucharistic Sacrament requires an arrangement of space different from that required by the administration of the sacraments of baptism and penance; the requirements in the administration of these sacraments differ from those which preaching demands; and differences appear again as between preaching and eucharistic adoration, as between eucharistic adoration and community worship, as between community worship and private devotion. It is the task of the architect to find a solution of the problem which will best satisfy these several purposes of the church edifice.
Before the architect or designer can provide these solutions he must understand the nature of these various functions in the context of the community they serve. The work of the Liturgical Movement provided the groundwork for explicating liturgical functions and making them meaningful. The 1947 directives represented the first joint episcopal recognition of the work of the liturgists on church architecture; their work has been of unquestionable value to patrons and designers.
Vatican Council II. The reform measures taken by vatican council ii in regard to the liturgy were issued in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Jan. 25, 1964). Guidelines for the furnishing of the church were indicated in article 128.
Along with the revision of the liturgical books, as laid down in Article 25, there is to be an early revision of the canons and ecclesiastical statutes which govern the provision of material things involved in sacred worship. These laws refer especially to the worthy and well planned construction of sacred buildings, the shape and construction of altars, the nobility, placing, and safety of the eucharistic tabernacle, the dignity and suitability of the baptistery, the proper ordering of sacred images, embellishments, and vestments. Laws which seem less suited to the reformed liturgy are to be brought into harmony with it, or else abolished; and any which are helpful are to be retained if already in use, or introduced where they are lacking.
According to the norm of Article 22 of this constitution, the territorial bodies of bishops are empowered to adapt such things to the needs and customs of their different regions; this applies especially to the materials and form of sacred furnishings and vestments.
In order to implement this article a directive based on the present reformed liturgy and sufficiently flexible to provide for reforms that may come in the future was issued in the form of an instruction on Sept. 26, 1964 [Acta Apostolicae Sedis 56 (Nov. 10, 1964) 14]. It is a refinement of the Preparatory Commission's declaration that was added as an appendix to explain certain articles. The "Appendix" relevant to article 128 appeared in Liturgical Arts (33.1, February, 1964) and also in Church Architecture, The Shape of Reform, (Liturgical Conference, Washington 1965). The fifth chapter of the September 26 instruction, without usurping the domain of architect and designer, provides a clear and flexible directive relevant to the disposition of the major elements in church furnishing; it is the practical explicative in effect at this time (1965) concerning the liturgical intelligence necessary for properly furnishing a church.
This fifth chapter, "The Proper Construction of Churches and Altars in order to Facilitate the Active Participation of the Faithful," taken from the Instruction for the Proper Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, reads as follows:
I. The arrangement of churches
90. In the new construction, repair, or adaptation of churches, great care shall be taken that they are suitable for the celebration of divine services according to the true nature of the services and for the active participation of the faithful (cf. constitution, article 124).
II. The main altar
91. It is proper that the main altar be constructed separately from the wall, so that one may go around it with ease and so that celebration may take place facing the people; it shall occupy a place in the sacred building which is truly central, so that the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful is spontaneously turned to it.
In choosing the material for the construction or ornamentation of the altar, the prescriptions of law shall be observed.
Moreover, the presbyterium or sanctuary area around the altar shall be of sufficient size that the sacred rites may be conveniently celebrated.
III. The seat of the celebrant and ministers
92. The seat for the celebrant and ministers, according to the structure of individual churches, shall be so placed that it may be easily seen by the faithful and that the celebrant may truly appear to preside over the entire community of the faithful.
Nevertheless, if the seat is placed behind the altar, the form of a throne is to be avoided, as this belongs to the bishop alone.
IV. Minor altars
93. The minor altars shall be few in number. In fact, to the extent permitted by the structure of the building, it is highly suitable that they be placed in chapels in some way separated from the principal part of the church.
V. Ornamentation of altars
94. The cross and candlesticks, which are required on the altar for the individual liturgical services, may also, in accordance with the judgment of the local ordinary, be placed next to it.
VI. The reservation of the most holy Eucharist
95. The most holy Eucharist shall be reserved in a solid and inviolable tabernacle placed in the middle of the main altar or of a minor, but truly outstanding, altar, or, according to lawful customs and in particular cases to be approved by the local ordinary, also in some other noble and properly adorned part of the church.
It is lawful to celebrate Mass facing the people even if there is a tabernacle, small but suitable, on the altar.
VII. The ambo
96. It is fitting that there be an ambo for the proclamation of the sacred readings, so arranged that the ministers can be easily seen and heard by the faithful.
VIII. The place of the schola and organ
97. The place for the schola and the organ shall be so arranged that it will be clearly evident that the singers and the organist form a part of the united community of the faithful and so that they may fulfill their liturgical function more suitably.
IX. The places of the faithful
98. The places for the faithful shall be arranged with particular care, so that they may participate in the sacred celebrations visually and with proper spirit. It is desirable that ordinarily benches or seats be provided for their use. Nevertheless, the custom of reserving seats for certain private persons is to be reprobated, in accordance with article 32 of the constitution.
Care shall also be taken that the faithful may not only see the celebrant and the other ministers but may also hear them easily, with the use of present day technical means.
99. In the construction and ornamentation of the baptistry, care shall be taken that the dignity of the sacrament of baptism is clearly apparent and that the place is suitable for the community celebration of the sacrament (cf. constitution, article 27).
The first published commentaries on this instruction were those of a meeting on church architecture conducted by the Liturgical Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 23–25, 1965 [Church Architecture, The Shape of Reform (Washington 1965)].
Although much of the postwar building in Europe revealed a sensitivity to liturgical need, few of the structures are flexible enough in their arrangement to accommodate all the desirable provisions of the 1964 instruction. Churches built before Vatican II (and the 1964 instruction) often present the following difficulties: (1) The altar in the sanctuary space is usually designed for the celebration of Mass with the celebrant's back toward the people; consequently the space more central to the people and more suited for the altar is occupied by the priest and ministers. (2) The tabernacle is usually placed on the main altar and provision for a repository or a Blessed Sacrament altar is neglected. (3) The place of the ambo for the proclamation of the readings is not clearly articulated architecturally. (4) The seat of the celebrant and ministers in the churches mentioned is not easily adapted to the reformed liturgy.
However problematical the rearrangement of older structures and the development of satisfactory solutions may seem, the 1964 instruction remains a lucid document on questions relevant to the architectural program of the church for the reformed liturgy that were unanswerable at an earlier date.
Bibliography: For specific liturgical objects see bibliog. under subject titles; for legislation on sacred art see liturgical art, 3; for select general bibliography on liturgical and ritual objects see encyclopedia of world art 9:314–315. General. History and handbooks. r. garrucci, Storia dell'arte cristiana, 6 v. (Prato 1872–81), illus. c. rohault de fleury, La Messe …, 8 v. (Paris 1883–89), illus. f. wieland, Mensa und Confessio, 2 v. (Munich 1906–12). DACL. v. thalhofer, Handbuch der katholischen Liturgik, 2 v. (2d ed. Freiburg 1912). k. m. kaufmann, Handbuch der christlichen Archäologie (2d ed. Patterborn 1913). w. f. volbach, Metallarbeiten des christlichen Kultes (Mainz 1921). j. braun, Der christliche Altar in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung, 2 v. (Munich 1924); Das christliche Altargerät (Munich 1932). a. munier, Construction, décoration, ameublement des églises, 3 v. (Paris 1926) v.2 L'Église à notre époque, sa décoration son ameublement. e. tyrrell-green, Baptismal Fonts (London 1928). v. casagrande, L'arte a servizio della Chiesa, 2 v. (Turin 1932–38). d. duret, Mobilier: Vases, objets et vêtements liturgiques (Paris 1923). L. eisenhofer, Handbuch der Katholischen Liturgik v.1. e. roulin, Nos Églises: Liturgie, architecture moderne et contemporaine, mobilier, peinture et sculpture (Paris 1938). e. short, A History of Religious Architecture (4th ed. London 1955). a. l. drummond, The Church Architecture of Protestantism (Edinburgh 1934). g. w. o. addleshaw and f. etchells, The Architectural Setting of Anglican Worship (London 1948). Contemporary church furnishing. p. r. rÉgamey Religious Art in the Twentieth Century (New York 1963). a. henze and t. filthaut, Contemporary Church Art, ed. m. lavanoux tr. c. hastings (New York 1956), illus. p. winninger, Construire des églises (Paris 1957). r. schwarz, The Church Incarnate, tr. c. harris (Chicago 1958), influential theoretical work. w. weyres and o. bartning, eds., Kirchen: Handbuch für den Kirchenbau (Munich 1959), diagrams, illustrations, bibliography. j. chÉlini, La Ville et l'église (Paris 1958). j. pichard, Modern Church Architecture, tr. e. callmann (New York 1962), illustrations, commentary and history of modern renewal. p. hammond, Liturgy and Architecture (New York 1961), bibliography, illustrations, most useful on relation of liturgy to architecture; ed., Towards a Church Architecture (London 1962), illus., app. of useful directives. a. christ-janer and m. m. foley, Modern Church Architecture (New York 1962), includes Protestant and Jewish structures, useful bibliog., illus. for each entry. r. k. seasoltz, The House of God (New York 1963), structured after the 1952 instruction but precedes Vatican Council II contributions. g. mercier, L'Art abstrait dans l'art sacré (Paris 1964), illustrations, bibliography, appendices with legislation and instruction. g. e. kidder smith, The New Churches of Europe (New York 1964), profusely illustrated, floor plans. r. gieselmann and w. aebli, Kirchenbau (Zurich 1960). r. biedrzynski, Kirchen unserer Zeit (Munich 1958). e. d. mills, The Modern Church (New York 1956). f. pfammatter, Betonkirchen (Einsiedeln 1948). a. henze, Neue kirchliche Kunst (Recklinghausen 1958). r. sowers, Stained Glass: An Architectural Art (New York 1965). a. bieler, Liturgie et architecture (Geneva 1962). Kirchenbau von heute für morgen, introd. W. M. Förderer (Sakrale Kunst 7; Zurich 1964).
[r. j. verostko/eds.]
Part 7: Liturgical Vessels
This article offers considerations on the artistic structure of the principal vessels used in the liturgy of the Eucharist. For more detailed information on other aspects of liturgical vessels in general, see liturgical vessels.
The Chalice. In early Christian times people drank from an ordinary drinking vessel in the celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper took place at a citizen's house; the celebrant did not yet wear ritual dress. The architectural structure of the church evolved from existing structures and the priest's vestments from the ordinary garments. In the same way the shape of the chalice developed from the former Roman drinking bowl.
Stylistically the chalice can be traced back by way of the Roman drinking bowl to the Greek two-handled bowl, this in its turn having been derived from the prehistoric cup of Aegean cultural origin. The Greek drinking vessel shows a low base and a broad bowl beneath which a nodelike support is inserted. The most typical features of this bowl were adopted for liturgical use, including the small intermediate section, from which decorative motif the node later developed.
The oldest vessels still extant and which, some assume, served as sacred vessels since early Christian times are Roman quartz bowls set in copper or silver gilt, provided with two handles and set on a small base (St. Mark's, Venice). It would thus appear that the Eucharistic vessel originated in the ordinary drinking bowl without a base.
Old vessels that may have served for the Sacrament were of semitransparent bluish glass; there are still fragments of such vessels showing a picture of Christ melted into the bottom of the bowl (British Museum, London).
From early times up to the late Middle Ages chalices were made of various materials: glass, as mentioned above, metal, horn, and wood. As time went on copper and silver gilt were increasingly employed.
The chalice, just as architecture, painting, and sculpture, underwent the changes of styles and tastes proper to the age of its makers. The handles gradually disappeared, and the node, as we see it on many chalices today, became a functional part of the chalice during the 13th century.
In the Romanesque-Byzantine period the chalice was made low and round in shape; in the Gothic period it was higher with a conical cup and a smaller and narrower base; its stem and node were more frequently ornamented with sexfoils. The node, hitherto mostly spherical, became flatter until the latter part of the 15th century when it was frequently broken up into six projections. The Renaissance altered the composition of the chalice very little, though articulation of detail and ornamental motifs changed. During the 17th and 18th centuries its shape became more fanciful with a clumsy and heavy foot, but a more delicate node, which was most often tripartite. The cup was more cylindrical with a rounded bottom, and the whole chalice was richly ornamented and covered with tracery. In the later baroque era three-quarters of the cup was concealed beneath a filigree basket.
At all times all manual processes related to vesselmaking have been employed in the making of chalices— embossing, casting, engraving, enameling, and the application of filigree-work.
The modern chalice is characterized by a large and forceful shape with dignity in its simplicity and lack of ornament. Stress is laid on the most important part, the cup. The size of the foot is limited to that demanded by its function, while the node has tended to disappear in the search for a purer and more harmonious line.
A chalice is typically made of precious metal, usually silver and rarely of gold. The General Instruction to the Roman Missal allows other materials to be used, so long as they are appropriate and tasteful. Since the 1980s, transparent crystal chalices that allowed the faithful to see the wine have been popularized.
The Paten. The paten is the Eucharistic dish; the Latin word is derived from the Greek πατάνε. In early Christian times this vessel was usually of glass (blue molten glass). Copper and silver were used in the pre-Carolingian period. In the early days of the Church a large dish was presumably used to collect the bread brought by the faithful from their homes, but with the introduction of the small hosts in the 11th century the paten became smaller. The oldest extant patens indicate the shape the early patens must have had; they were made large and deep since a big loaf of bread was cut up and placed upon them. Patens from the late Middle Ages until the 16th century were strong and vigorous in line. The hollow in the middle was frequently decorated with sexfoils and richly ornamented. In the late Gothic period patens became flatter and almost dish-shaped.
The modern paten has again become larger, and has a deep hollow; it is free of ornament and has a smooth surface; its shape once more conforms to that of the bread dish. Like the chalice, the paten is mostly in silver gilt. In recent times we often find the surface rhodium-plated or enameled; rhodium does not oxidize and provides a surface that is easily cleaned.
The Ciborium. The name, derived from Latin cibus signifying nourishment, refers to the function of the ciborium as a dish for bread.
The ciborium and the paten probably originated in the same vessel, the bread dish. This vessel is assumed to have served in the early days to distribute the consecrated bread among the faithful, and later also for reservation of the Eucharist. Nothing is known of the shape of this vessel in early Christian times. A symbol, fish and bread, found in the Roman catacombs, provides only a vague indication. In very early times it was customary to reserve the Eucharist, and the pyx was made for this purpose.
No vessels from the Middle Ages are extant, or if they still exist we fail to recognize them as such. We know only that containers made of wood, ivory, glass, and parchment served for the reservation of the consecrated bread. The 12th century provides more clarification; extant vessels dating from this period indicate that suspended ciboria were employed. These were flat or spherical in shape, with a very small foot. The 13th century brings further elucidation; in this century were made the enameled copper host containers of Limoges, still to be found in a number of old churches and museums. They are small pyxes, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, that seem from their conical lids and the cross top to have evolved from the earlier hanging ciboria. The suspended vessels often in the shape of a dove are also enameled copper work from Limoges. The hanging up of such vessels may well have come from the ancient practice of preserving and protecting foodstuffs in this manner.
Later it would seem that the vessels were kept in the sacristy or in a wall niche that could be closed with an iron or wooden door. In the 15th century the vessels for reservation were of greatly varying types; some resembled a cylinder with a conical lid and were obviously a further development of the Limoges pyx; others were bowl-shaped and had a spherical lid. These vessels, so dissimilar in type, were set upon a stem that became increasingly high in the early Gothic period. The shape of foot, stem, and node varied in detail, but remained parallel with the style of the chalice. The ciborium retained the character of a drinking vessel from the 15th century until the present day, its general structure changing little in the baroque era; only its ornamentation was adapted to the style trend of the time. The small cross already seen on the small medieval pyx has been placed unchanged on almost all ciboria from the 15th century until today.
The fundamental conceptions of modern ciboria differ very considerably. We see ciboria in the usual chalice shape with foot, node, and cup, while at the same time attempts are made to design bowl-shaped vessels of various types. The shape of the modern vessel tends to revert to that of the original bread dish. (see ciborium).
The Pyx. The pyx is the name usually given to the vessel used to carry the consecrated host to the sick. The word comes from ancient Greek πυξίς and signifies a container made of boxwood.
The oldest pyxes that would seem to have fulfilled this purpose are the enameled copper vessels from Limoges. Since the 13th century pyxes of the most varying kinds have been made in different countries. They frequently resemble a reliquary or small monstrance. This latter type was customary when the visit to the sick took place in procession and with an escort.
In recent times a small silver-gilt box has become the most generally used, in which the receptacle is enclosed in a small patenlike plate, frequently enameled to facilitate cleaning. (see pyx).
The Monstrance. The monstrance or ostensory (ostensorium), is a container used for fixed or processional exposition of the Eucharist. The monstrance was unknown in the early Christian Church; it was introduced in the 14th century with the Feast of Corpus Christi.
The monstrance gradually became more widely used. Its shape developed slowly from that of the pyx, which had hitherto served for liturgical ceremonies and was then partially replaced by the monstrance; as a consequence the latter has taken over part of the function of the pyx. The lid of the pyx vessel is enlarged by decorative elements and raised above the bowl. A receptacle is inserted between vessel and lid.
A similar vessel developed simultaneously from the reliquary, particularly from the type with the vertically inserted glass cylinder. From these forebears came the Gothic monstrance with its typical towerlike superstructure, showing an influence of the architecture of the period. The depository for relics became the sacred vessel, the pyx the ostensory.
There are few monstrances from this early period still extant; however, many 15th-century ones of varied types have survived. Renaissance monstrances have still greater variety. Toward the close of the 16th century the flat disk became increasingly common, and in the baroque period they were more uniform in shape, a richly ornamented flat surface being usually combined with the ray motif. In the 19th century, when there was a general decline in applied art, all historical forms were reproduced; even monstrances with Romanesque style elements were constructed although this vessel did not exist in the period of Romanesque art.
See Also: monstrance; chalice, paten, and veil.
Bibliography: See bibliography under specific vessels. j. braun, Das christliche Altargerät in seinem Sein und in seiner Entwicklung (Munich 1932), standard work on vessels and altar furnishings. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie 2.2:1595–1645; 13.2:2392–2414; 14.2:1983–95. j. baudot, ibid. 2.2:1646–51. m. righetti, Manuale di storia Liturgica, 4 v. (Milan 1949–53) 1:461–476. f. n. arnoldi, Encyclopedia of World Art 9:297–300. w. w. watts, Catalogue of Chalices and Other Communion Vessels: Victoria and Albert Museum (London 1922). a. henze and t. filthaut, Contemporary Church Art, ed. m. lavanoux, tr. c. hastings (New York 1956). Sakrale Kunst, v.1 (Zurich 1957), a yearbook, this issue discusses problems of contemporary sacred vessels. m. burch, Sacred Vessels (Zurich n.d.), pamphlet, issued as guide to contemporary design problems.
Part 8: Liturgical Vestments
The style of liturgical vestments is derived from that of the common secular dress worn in early Christian times. From the fourth to the ninth century, garments became formalized in use, took on symbolic meanings, and, as popular styles changed, became distinct from the dress of the ordinary citizen. Eventually some vestments became insignia of an officiant's rank or function, and prescriptions developed regarding materials, color, use, and design.
The vestments discussed here are the main ones used in Roman rite (chasuble and cope, stole, amice, maniple, dalmatic, tunic, alb, and cincture), but counterparts of these, which had a somewhat different evolution, exist in the Eastern Churches. Contemporary trends represent a return to the original form of vestments, approximating these more closely now than in the past 600 years.
Specific vestments are considered historically and from the aspect of prescribed liturgical use under their specific titles. (see liturgical vestments; alb; amice; chasuble; dalmatic; maniple; stole; surplice; and cope and humeral veil). For papal vesture (see papal ceremony and vesture); for episcopal vesture (see episcopal ceremony and vesture).
The Principal Vestments. Alb. The alb is a straight garment with close-fitting sleeves, hung from the shoulders, and extending to the ankles. Usually it is white linen, although originally it was made of wool, and during the Middle Ages it was any color. The alb was derived from the Roman tunica alba, worn during the first and second centuries, and is the most unchanged in form of all the liturgical vestments. Originally a baptismal garment in the early church, it gradually became worn by all grades of clerics and monks. When its use became still more restricted from the 12th century onwards, the rochet and surplice developed to replace it. Ungirt, it was an inconvenient garment to wear and became associated in the ancient world with a life of culture and ease. By the addition of a girdle the folds were more controlled, and it could be shortened by being raised above the girdle.
Cincture. The cincture, cingulum, is the girdle that is worn with the alb. It was originally a flat band, secured with a clasp or buckle, and made of leather or cloth. Although included with the linen vestments, it can actually be of wool, linen, or silk, the latter being reserved for prelates. It is usually white but can be the color of the outer vestments.
Amice. The amice is a rectangular piece of white linen, to the two upper corners of which are attached long tapes. It was worn under the alb, around the neck like a muffler and secured by tying the tapes around the body. It serves the functions of protecting the other garments.
Stole. The long narrow scarflike vestment worn around the neck and hanging down the front to the waist or crossed in front, is the stole. Several authorities claim that it evolved from the Greek homophorion or orarium, a linen drape used as a facecloth and worn around the neck or on the head by people of rank. Stoles gradually became ornamental in insignia, and their practical function was fulfilled by the amice. The stole is conferred on the deacon at his ordination. He wears it on his right shoulder and crosses it under his left arm; the priest and the bishop wears the two sides parallel in front. This is the only vestment indicating rank by the manner in which it is worn. Stoles were enlarged during the Middle Ages, developed wide flanging ends, and were heavily ornamented with embroidery, fringe, gold, and jewels. They seem to have been in general use in Gaul as early as the 6th century and not to have come into wide usage in Rome until the 12th century. Recently there has been a tendency to return to a full length, narrow, less ornate stole. The color of the stole denotes the color of the liturgical season.
Maniple. The Roman mappula was a table napkin; the mappa was a cloth worn on the arm by women to wipe their faces. Both terms were eventually used to refer to the ceremonial napkin, the prototype of the maniple, which was used by persons of rank in pre-Christian times. This item of personal luxury was employed by officials to signal the beginning of public events. The origins of the maniple were then both practical and ceremonial. It was worn on the left arm and used at the Eucharistic banquet until the 12th century. As it became more ornamental and less useful, its function was assigned to the purificator. Like the stole, it became stiff, ornate, and fringed. Short maniples became inconvenient appendages in danger of dragging on the altar. The liturgical reform of Vatican II rendered the use of the maniple obsolete.
Chasuble. The form of the chasuble, outermost garment of the celebrant, has gone through successive alterations. Liturgical books traditionally referred to it as the planeta, the term applied to the earlier paenula by the fourth century. By the seventh century it was called the chasuble from a popular nickname associating it with the casula, the small tent of shepherds. This term is understandable considering that the early paenula and its liturgical derivative was an enveloping cone-shaped garment with an opening at the top, which permitted the head to emerge. Ancient representations of both the secular paenula and the early sacerdotal vestment show that it was semicircular in pattern, with the two flat edges sewn together to establish a single front seam and a conical shape. This accounts for the characteristic horizontal drape of the fabric, freeing the arms. It is seen in statues, mosaics, manuscripts, and paintings up to the high Renaissance.
Human clothing has usually consisted of two basic garments, an undergarment draped to the figure in vertical folds, and an overgarment draped horizontally across the body as a cloak for warmth and protection, or as a mark of distinction or pure ornamentation. The ancient mantle, worn over the toga and open in front, was the garment of ordinary citizens. It was both a mark of distinction and a protective garment. This evolved into the cope. The ancient paenula was a protective garment also, distinct from the mantle, having a front seam and being made of less refined fabric. It was always colored and was associated with the poor and travelers. Although admitted into Rome by the third century, it never became an imperial garment. Thus the chasuble is derived from the encompassing garment that gave warmth and protection.
As early as the sixth century it began to show changes. They resulted in the loss of its original shape and meaning as a garment, turning it more and more into an elaborate costume. First the sides were shortened, the front was cut to a point, and eventually both front and back were shortened. During the Middle Ages abbreviation of size continued and elaborate embroidery and heavy fabrics began to be used. After changes from the 13th to the 17th century, the chasuble resembled two stiff panels joined at the shoulders. Post-Reformation models evolving into this form exhibited national variations— Italian (Roman), Spanish, French (Gallican), and German. The orphrey, which had originated as a decoration covering the front seam, became enlarged and ornamental, adorning both front and back panels. The so-called "Gothic" chasuble is actually neo-Gothic coming from the period of the Gothic revival. It was an attempt at an ample embracing vestment, made at a time when relationship with the original paenula was lost. It was simply a fuller version of the derivative fiddle-back panel form. It has two unadorned shoulder seams allowing for the vertical draping of the fabric, and, compared to the original chasubles, it was considerably abbreviated in length. Often a Y-shaped cross served as the orphrey.
In the wake of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, the design of the chasuble gradually returned to its traditional origins, a return to the style of the original chasuble developed. Ornamentation, for which there is no regulation, became more simplified and restrained. The enveloping function of the garment and the color of the liturgical season now assumes a primary role in its design.
Dalmatic. The outer garment of the deacon, the dalmatic was derived from a woolen garment originating in the Greek province of Dalmatia; they displaced the awkward Roman toga for general wear during the first half of the 4th century. The early Christians are usually pictured wearing the dalmatic in catacomb paintings. These frequently show two clavi, vertical bands of decoration, which, even today, should be the only ornamentation of the dalmatic. The dalmatic was conferred on Roman deacons as early as the 4th century even though it still remained a secular garment for emperors, consuls, and even the French kings through the 7th century. Throughout the 10th century it was usually of white linen or wool; by the 12th century silk prevailed. Today it is prescribed as an outer garment, usually matching the chasuble, and differing from the tunic by being longer and having wider sleeves. In the past the sides were split to facilitate walking, and eventually the split extended to the under seam of the sleeves. Now there is a tendency to restore the normal pattern.
Liturgical Colors. The liturgical colors for vestments are white, red, green, purple, violet, and rose, with gold as a substitute for white and, if necessary, for other festive colors. No shade or tint of these colors is prescribed, and there is no limitation of colors used for ornament or lining. The first color sequence was established by Innocent III in the 13th century, printed in Burckard's Ordo Missae in 1502, and made obligatory in the General Rubrics of the Missal of 1570.
Prescriptives and Regulations. As early as the reign of St. Stephen I in the 3d century there were Church regulations regarding the use and appearance of vestments. Today these appear principally in the General Instruction to the Roman Missal, and adaptations by local bishops' conferences.
The Art of Vestments. Throughout history there have been numerous examples of precious vestments. Although some are beautiful in their form as garments, more often it is the ornamentation that distinguishes them, sometimes to the detriment of their symbolism as garments. They combine richness of fabric with refinement of embroidery.
Early Christian. After the Edict of Milan in the early fourth century public services of worship were held more openly, and enriched versions of the dress of the times began to be reserved for the celebration of the Eucharist. There is record of a golden cloth cloak given by Constantine in 330 to a church in Jerusalem for use at Easter. With Constantinople established as the capital of the empire there began a long period of Byzantine influence on the art of the West, extending to the 12th century. An indescribable delicacy and richness of embroidery developed, which harmonized with the glory of the mosaics in church interiors. These, frequently depicting clerics, showed the type, shapes, and decoration of the vestments as well as the woven patterns of the fabrics. Gold and silver threads as well as silk and jewels were used with rich variety. Sometimes the backgrounds were so well filled that the original fabric was almost completely obscured.
Byzantine work at its finest is seen in the Imperial Dalmatic, sometimes known as the dalmatic of Charlemagne or of Pope Leo III. It is probably the most important medieval object in the treasury of St. Peters, and is variously dated from the 9th to the 15th century. It is most likely a work of the 13th-century Byzantine renaissance. The embroidered iconography includes the Transfiguration, Last Supper, and Second Coming of Christ. The design in gold and silver, with some silk, almost obscures the basic steel-blue silk fabric. The cut is that of the Greek homophorion, similar to a modern dalmatic.
One of the earliest extant examples of embroidery is a sixth-century roundel, Coptic in origin, in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. It has three figures stitched in silk and is characteristic of the ornamental embroidery and tapestry weavings that were used by the Copts as orphreys, stoles, and ornaments on sacred vesture. Extant fragments indicate a well-developed tradition of the use of figures of Christ, the Virgin, angels, and saints, as well as an interesting variety of symbols.
Romanesque and Gothic. In the West there is sparse evidence of the ornamental development of vestments through the Romanesque period, although manuscripts and sculptures depicting them suggest a vigor comparable to that of the architecture.
But it was during the Gothic age that a flourishing textile production joined with the skill of designers and craftsmen to produce precious and elaborate works of vesture. Large textile centers were frequently attached to monasteries of the Cistercians in England, the Humble Fathers of Saint Michael, who moved from Egypt to Florence, and the great centers at Lyons and Seville. The Benedictines and Humiliates joined forces in Florence making it a powerful textile center. More than 200 communities existed in Florence, where there were 30,000 craftsmen producing 100,000 pieces of cloth per year, exclusive of cotton and linen. In the same period designing skills were applied to objects ranging from the refined manuscript to the sculptures in majestic cathedrals. The embroidered and woven designs of vestments harmonized with the other artistic works of the time. The tradition of the Eastern Churches was well known. Varied fabrics and dyes were available, and embroideries were ingenious. Artists were usually anonymous. Though several persons might be engaged on a piece, apparently individuals often did a single work. Embroidery was undertaken by both men and women, laymen and religious alike. Much time was given to it in certain convents, and gifts were often made by noble ladies.
From 1250 to 1350 the English embroidery that became internationally prized for its perfection was Opus Anglicanum. Successive popes commissioned or were given vestments and copes of Opus Anglicanum, and there are numerous records of such works on inventories in France, Italy, and Spain. Bearing some similarity in design to early manuscripts such as kells and lindisfarne, the background was originally covered with circles or other geometric figures, which were filled with figures of saints and angels. Later an architectural division of the background into a series of arches radiating from the center of the vestment developed. A characteristic mode of treating figures evolved, which is especially apparent in the manner of embroidering the faces, split stitches being made in spiral patterns on the cheeks and chin, across the forehead and down the nose. The S-curve posture, the folds of drapery, and the gestures are similar to those found in the manuscripts and sculptures of the same period. Although a number of fine examples of Opus Anglicanum vestments, orphreys, and borders exist, the most impressive example is the Butler-Bowden cope, a 14th-century piece in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is somewhat unusual in that the basic material is not hard surfaced, but is a crimson velvet that has been embroidered with silks, gold, silver gilt, and seed pearls. The whole was covered with a fine material on which the design was first traced. The embroidery was then worked through both layers and the linen backing, the fine material being cut away once the embroidery was completed. Eight figures are embroidered into the orphrey, some of them prelates garbed in full liturgical vesture of the time.
Although the Opus Anglicanum represented advanced development during the medieval period, on the Continent similar work was being done, an especially inventive tradition prevailing in Germany. Many of the continental works lack the gold dominant in the Opus Anglicanum but show greater variety of stitches.
Renaissance to Baroque. From the 13th to the 17th century, vestments changed repeatedly in form and ornamentation. Three major phases of change took place, each a mistake being corrected by an additional error. In the late Middle Ages the magnificent materials used (heavy brocades, elaborate embroideries, gems) were unsuited to the function of the garment and the manner of draping desired. The overweight material was retained in the Renaissance, and the form was sacrificed, being cut away more and more at the shoulders. Finally, in more recent times, the neo-Gothic began to restore the length and shoulder width but neglected the true form and nature of the chasuble.
In the late 14th and in the 15th century embroidery work lost some of its earlier perfection. The figures embroidered into pillar and cross orphreys were less graceful and symbolic emblems were meager. Refinement of design and execution tended to disappear. By the end of the 16th century secular subjects predominated, judging from inventory lists: griffins, columbines, waterlilies, oak leaves, pheasants, and hawks. At the same time new techniques were admitted into textile weaving in the West along with velvets, brocades, and damasks. Embroidered units were worked separately on linen and sewn onto the vestment separately, the edges being broken with rays of gold. Repetitions of design suggests the poverty of inspiration. By the late 15th and the early 16th century, chasubles were generally fiddle-shaped, many of the earlier vestments having been cut down. Sumptuous materials of wearing apparel were often donated for the use of the Church. During the Reformation quantities of vestments were destroyed; some were burned and the gold reclaimed, the jewels removed; others were distributed and cut up for wearing apparel and furnishings.
The amice and alb, when decorated, were adorned by the adding of rich fabrics sewn in strips to the linen. On the amice they formed an outer collar around the neck and outside the chasuble. They served as outer cuffs for the alb and ornamented the center front and back hem. Apparels usually had some embroidery added that harmonized with but did not necessarily duplicate the liturgical color of the outer vestments. Sometimes the stole and maniple matched the apparels. The rise of the lace industry in Europe had its effect on the comparatively untouched alb. Needlepoint lace is first mentioned in an Italian inventory of 1493, and within the next century pattern books for laces appeared. Soon albs were decorated with borders, cuffs, and collars of lace until the border decoration eventually assumed the appearance of an entire skirt of lace. Some of the finest laces adorn such albs: punto in aria, gros point de Venise, rose point, and point de France. Although these usages constituted a degeneration of the form of the alb, they occasioned exquisite lacemaking. The use of apparels has never been completely lost; they are still found in Milan, Lyons, and Spain.
In the late 16th century, St. Charles borromeo tried to prevent the curtailment of the form of vestments, which was already under way. His "Directions" comprise the most copious and detailed prescriptions in the history of liturgical propriety. His prescriptions did not regard shape but were concerned with size, requiring ample, floor-length, simple vestments. Various changes in style that affected the integrity of vestments after his time were optional.
The worldliness of the Renaissance and the elaborate display of the baroque and the rococo caused a fashion of meaningless decor, bountiful flowers, over-high miters, large hoods, over-wide ophreys, stiff and heavy copes, all rendered in gorgeous, brilliant textiles, technically remarkable for raised figures, "needle painting," and shading. The post-Reformation up to 19th-century revivalisms saw the ascendance of a kind of theatrical vestment-making; the flare for display reached its height in the Rococo.
The 20th Century. The Gothic revival was discernible in the neo-Gothic vestment-making of the earlier part of the 20th century. The style did not achieve the goal of restoring the traditional form of vestments, but it did lead to this restoration by replacing the fiddle-back chasuble. The postwar renaissance, especially in continental Europe, had evidenced a return to the classic paenula shape; artisans tend to employ modern materials, ample but light, with simple trim and contrasting fabric. These vestments complement the simplicity and clarity of the best of contemporary church architecture. The modern renewal of the liturgy has been supported by the interest of vestment-makers both in Europe and America; however, in general, the vestment has received less attention than architecture. Some European churches, planned with attention to liturgical service, reveal awareness of architectural form that extends to every detail of the church including the appointment of vestments. The harmony is observable in the chapel by H. Matisse at vence, St. Kuris (Bruges), and St. Thérèse (Audincourt). The Abbey of Sainte André in Belgium produced vestments that show awareness of their function, and since 1948 has provided a steady stream of scholarly articles and inspiring illustrations in L'Ouvroir liturgique, the regular supplement to L'Art d'église. The works of Sister Augustina Flüeler at the Paramentenwerkstätte Sancta Klara in Stans, Switzerland, combine the best elements of both the contemporary and the traditional. Artistic embroidery has been revived at the German Saarbruecker Paramente-Manufaktur of Ella Broesch and encouraged by the works and writings of Beryl Dean in England.
Chapter 7, section 128, of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy calls for "an early revision of the canons and ecclesiastical statutes which govern the provision of material things involved in liturgical worship," and specifically mentions vestments.
Bibliography: a. w. pugin, Glossary of Ecclesiastical Ornament and Costume (London 1846). e. e. viollet-le-duc, Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français de l'époque carlovingienne à la renaissance, 6 v. (Paris 1868–75). j. braun, Die liturgische Gewandung im Occident und Orient (Freiburg 1907); Die liturgische Gegenwart und Vergangenheit: Ein Handbuch der Paramentik (Freiburg 1912). e. a. roulin, Vestments and Vesture, tr. j. mccann (St. Louis 1931; Westminster, MD, 1950). r. james, Origin and Development of Roman Liturgical Vestments (2d ed. Exeter,1934). p. f. anson, Churches, Their Plan and Furnishing (Milwaukee, 1948). h. norris, Church Vestments (New York, 1950). b. dean, Ecclesiastical Embroidery (London 1958). r. lesage, Vestments and Church Furniture, tr. f. murphy (New York, 1960). Righetti 1:488–524. L'Art d'église (Bruges 1927–), quarterly.
Part 9: Episcopal and Abbatial
The origin and development of the use by prelates of the miter, ring, crozier, and coat of arms as marks of dignity and authority, is of interest to the history of forms of art.
Miter. The use of headgear as a symbol of regal, or of priestly status antedates Christianity. The prelatial miter takes its name from the word mitra, meaning in Greek a headband, or diadem, also a conical Persian cap, and in Latin, a bonnet secured to the head by a band. From the conical cap of Oriental origin is derived the papal tiara, and, according to Galbreath, the miter shares the same prototype. A distinctive official headdress was not used by bishops before the 11th century. It first appears as a round bonnet secured by a headband, fastened at the sides, the loose ends depending like lappets. Early in the 12th century this bonnet developed lobes, or points to right and left. By the end of the same century the points shifted to back and front, and the lappets fell at the back. In this form the miter appears on the seal of William, Archbishop of Bourges (1201).
Originally of white linen with embroidery (orphrey) the miter was progressively elaborated until three distinct types emerged in the Middle Ages, differentiated by the quality of the materials used in their construction: (1) the mitra simplex, of plain white linen or silk damask, with red fillets; (2) the mitra aurifrigiata, of silk damask, cloth of silver or gold, embroidered but without jewels, except seed pearls; and (3) the mitra pretiosa, adorned with jewels and plates of precious metal. Before the ornamentation of the miter was standardized greater freedom in its adornment was possible. Woodward mentions a Swedish miter of the 14th century from the cathedral of Lenköping bearing plates of silver gilt enameled with figures of saints and with the arms of the bishop and his diocese.
Keeping its essential form the miter has accommodated itself to changing fashions. In early examples the points were comparatively low, but in the later Middle Ages they began to soar until with the advent of the baroque style they reached the exaggerated height that still largely prevails. An example of a modern miter that reflects the taste of an earlier period is the very pleasing abbatial miter used at the Benedictine abbey at Fort Augustus in Scotland, a low miter richly embroidered in designs that recall the intricacies of Celtic illumination. A good example of the late medieval miter of the heightened form appears as part of the reliquary of St. Lambert in the cathedral at Liège.
The abbatial miter was first conceded in 1063 to Engelsinus, abbot of the monastery of St. Augustine at Canterbury. This was no doubt the mitra simplex. In 1267 exempt abbots were conceded the use of the aurifrigiata. The pretiosa, however, was generally reserved to prelates of at least episcopal rank. (see miter.)
Rings. Rings of a distinctly Christian character, bearing symbols of the faith and figures of saints, were in use among the faithful at an early date, but the ring as a mark of episcopal dignity and authority appears to have come into use no earlier than the sixth century. St. Isidore, Bishop of Seville (593–633), mentions the bestowal of a ring as "signum pontificalis honoris," as one feature of the consecration ceremony. The bishop's ring, besides being a mark of honor, stands as a symbol of the espousal by the prelate of the flock over which he presides. Some early prelatial rings appear to have been signet rings. It was only later that the custom of adorning the official ring of bishops and abbots with some semiprecious stone became common. The stone most often used appears to have been the amethyst (see rings, liturgical use of).
Crozier. The crozier as a symbol of spiritual authority antedates both the ring and the miter, its use going back to the 4th century. The nature of this authority is suggested by its form, which is that of the pastoral staff, or shepherd's crook. The earliest examples of the crozier that appear on episcopal and abbatial seals are extremely simple, approximating very nearly the staff actually used by shepherds. With changing fashions in taste, however, the pastoral staff, like the miter, gradually became ornate. Decorative elaboration occurs chiefly on the curved section, or crook. An early example of the tendency to elaborate is the crozier of carved wood used by St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany (d. 754), which is still preserved at the monastery of Fulda. The curved section of the staff encloses the figure of a lamb surmounted by a cross, presumably a simpler version of the more elaborated Agnus Dei, which in the baroque period is often seen depending from the crook. The crozier, while keeping its essential character of pastoral staff or shepherd's crook, has undergone many accidental changes dictated by the changing taste of successive periods. The transition from late Gothic to baroque produced the type that is in fairly general use today. An example of late medieval taste can be seen in the reliquary of St. Lambert at Liège, mentioned above. An interesting modern crozier designed in the spirit of an earlier period is in use at the Benedictine abbey at Fort Augustus (Scotland). The staff is of a dark wood and the silver crook is elaborated into the form of a dragon, recalling fantasies of medieval illumination.
Episcopal Coat of Arms. Armorial insignia came into fashion in the 12th century. They were adopted at first as a means of identification on the field of battle, where warriors of both sides were encased in nearly identical armor. As a convenient means of identification it began to appear on seals and to serve also as a device for authentication. As such the cognizance of the warrior was adopted by prelates, and in time the custom of displaying a coat of arms as a mark of rank as well as a means of identification became permanently established among churchmen (see heraldry).
Normally the personal arms only, inherited or assumed, are to appear upon the shield. A deviation from this rule has become customary in the U.S., where the bishop impales his arms with those of his diocese, the abbot his personal coat with that of his monastery. Behind his shield of arms the bishop places the processional cross. This cross in the case of an archbishop has two traverses. Behind an abbot's shield is placed the crozier, with the "sudarium," a sort of protective scarf, attached to the staff. In the U.S. both the bishop and the abbot place a miter on top of the shield to the left; the bishop places a crozier to the right of his cross behind the shield. Above the shield is placed the ecclesiastical hat with its cords and tassels depending to either side. The rank of the prelate is indicated by the color of this hat and the number of tassels depending from it. The hat of the bishop and of the archbishop is green, that of the abbot, black. A bishop's hat has 12 tassels depending, six to either side of the shield, so also that of an abbot. The number of tassels for an archbishop is increased to 20, 10 to either side of the shield. If the bishop, or archbishop, is also a cardinal the hat is red, the number of tassels 30, 15 to either side of the shield.
The prelatial coat of arms, like the miter and crozier, has reflected current trends in taste; fashions in its design range from the vigor and grace of the best heraldic art of the Middle Ages to the overloaded extravagances of the 18th century. In the latter period the shield was often abandoned in favor of the cartouche, usually oval in shape. Prelates of noble birth often placed over the shield, or cartouche, a coronet indicating their secular rank. In recent times this practice has been forbidden by Rome. The prince-bishops and abbots of the ancien régime, being temporal as well as spiritual rulers, placed behind their shields of arms a sword crossed in saltire with the crozier. Crests are not normally used by ecclesiastics, but there is a curious exception to this rule to be seen in the arms of a medieval bishop of the Palatine See of Durham, where the crest of the bishop's family appears issuing from the top of the miter.
As an art form the ecclesiastical coat of arms has many decorative uses in the embellishment of vestments, sacred vessels, monuments, churches, and other buildings connected with diocesan activities. It has also a modest place in the liturgy for it is customary to display upon the two small kegs of wine presented by a bishop to his consecrator, the consecrator's arms and his own.
Bibliography: w. smith and s. cheetham, A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, 2 v. (Hartford 1880). j. woodward, Ecclesiastical Heraldry (London 1894). d. l. galbreath, Papal Heraldry (A Treatise on Ecclesiastical Heraldry 1; Cambridge, England,1930). b. b. heim, Coutumes et droit héraldiques de l'église (Paris 1949). m. righetti, Manuale di storia liturgica, 4 v. (Milan 1949–55) 1:531–539.
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