Crimson and Gold: Roman Chasuble in a Spanish Manner

Kermes red and radiant gold, symbols of sacrifice and splendor, are brought together in a wonderful example of a recently completed Gothic Revival chasuble. The sacred landscape adorning the vestment, a happy union of ornament and symbol, embodies an ideal that, at its best, governs all efforts in the realization of arts dedicated to the worship of God. It strives to balance practical needs with expert skill, beauty, and spiritual significance.
The chasuble is organized around the Holy Name and symbols of the Passion. The I H S, an ancient abbreviation for Iesous Christos, is embroidered on the reverse orphrey of the chasuble. The obverse features a theme of stylized oak leaves, thistle plants and dianthus flowers. Oak leaves are often used throughout the illuminated manuscripts and in textiles, because it was widely accepted in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that the Cross was made from an oak tree. Starting with the Medieval iconography, thistle is understood to be a plant alluding to the Crown of Thorns and the bodily sufferings of Our Lord. Dianthus flowers (carnations) carry a seemingly incongruent range of meaning: from the nails and the wounds of Christ to the mystery of nuptial love. Conjoining unlike aspects of symbolic value, a flower and a weed, physical suffering and passionate love, artwork on this chasuble aims to activate imagination to the fullest possible range of meanings – from the strictly aesthetic to poetic to spiritual, from the terrifying to the sublime.

In terms of material and technique, the base fabric of the vestment is a silk damask in soft-white tone. The lining is crimson silk satin. The leaves and crosses are carried out in appliqué brocade. This means that the shapes are cut from select pieces of precious textile and hand applied to the surface of the fabric. Flowers and berry like fruits, clustered as trefoils and alluding to the Holy Trinity, are embroidered in needle painting technique, with each thread acting as a minute brushstroke creating an image of a perfected natural entity. Goldwork detailing is made in varied textures of couched bullion. Accents are in silk thread as is usual when couched bullion is used.

The cut is a Spanish iteration of a Roman chasuble known as guitarron for its resemblance to a Renaissance string instrument.

The chasuble was made by Los Rosales, vestment atelier of the Spanish liturgical arts studio Granda.

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