Some Liturgical Effects of Blessed John Henry Newman

The feast day of Blessed John Henry Newman was celebrated this week (October 9th to be precise) and before the week passes us by I didn't want to miss an opportunity to resurrect some photos of a liturgical arts nature tied to Newman and the Birmingham Oratory.

Of particular interest to me personally are Newman's Low Mass vestments which are resident in his private chapel, found in his rooms in the Oratory.  One of the noble traditions of the Latin rite that we have spoken of here before is the inclusion of heraldry on vestments. This tradition is most commonly manifest by the inclusion of prelatial arms at the base of chasuble within the central orphrey.  Newman's Low Mass vestments are no different and each chasuble includes his iconic arms.

You can see from these details that the arms have a very nice texture and depth to them. This is, in fact, one of the things that often set apart these from some modern attempts at arms on vestments, attempts which can be very flat or manifest as a machine embroidered patch.  I would certainly encourage our vestment artists and embroiderers to study traditional examples such as that shown above in order to replicate this tradition.

Beyond the arms you can also see that a traditional lamé is utilized and the vestments are in the baroque cut, solidly set in the Roman/Italian tradition with the cross on the front and a central orphrey on the back.

The trims that form the orphrey are also of a nice width in their own right which gives them weight and substance. This is an aspect which is not always readily considered but I believe should be.

As you can see above, Cardinal Newman's chapel was fitted with a Low Mass set in this same style in each of the primary liturgical colours: red, violet, green, white and black.

Here is Newman's private chapel itself while we are here:

Above the altar is a portrait of St. Francis de Sales, painted by a fellow convert who became a Visitation sister. To the right can be seen a statue of the virgin and child. Various portraits are also visible and a variety of relics. One will note the small canopy above the altar.

To the left one will just see the top edge of a wooden cabinet which is where the vestments we have just been considering were and are stored.

To conclude our considerations, it seems fitting to share some images which came by way of the Catholic Heritage Association of Ireland which showed an exhibition of Cardinal Newman related objects and ephemera, including his cardinal's vesture.

Aside from the cassock and mantelletta, readers will also want to take note of the red buckled shoes and galero.  Below is a detail of the pectoral cross.

Finally, here is a precious mitre and crozier that was made for Newman.

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