The Genuine Art of the Processional Banner

We haven't yet had the opportunity to give much consideration to the world of the processional banner where the liturgical arts are concerned and today I wished to begin to remedy this omission. I must preface this, of course, by noting that when many think of "banners" in churches today, their mind regrettably (but understandably) tends to gravitate toward thoughts of the sort of 'primitivist' work that has been present in so many of our parishes from the 1970's onward. Such banners have invariably suffered from a certain sort of infantilism in their design and execution -- looking more akin to a Sunday School project than liturgical art proper if we are to be bluntly honest in our assessment. This association is unfortunate because processional banners can be (and have been) so much more. Properly done, they can be among some of the most beautiful and striking instantiations of the textile arts within an ecclesiastical and liturgical context.

To give an example, today I wanted to turn readers' attention to a Dutch work produced sometime around the first decade of the 20th century by H. Fermin which I believe will show readers just how refined this art can in fact be. This particular banner includes an image of the Sacred Heart -- founded very much in the gothic revival tradition of the likes of Sir Ninian Comper -- that is in turn is set against of field of white with gold crosses, further surrounded by a beautiful field of green that is ornamented with exquisitely embroidered floral designs.  Also noteworthy in this piece -- and so many others like it -- is the beautifully refined palette that is used; colourful yet subdued.

I think you will agree that it is a true incarnation of "noble beauty." Let's take a look.

(All photos come by way of the excellent Flickr resource, Paramentica, which is operated by Marike van Roon.)

Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.