Three Historical Chasubles: A Visual Meditation for the Sacred Triduum

This evening marks the beginning of the Triduum and as a visual meditation on this most solemn time of the liturgical year, I thought I would quickly share with our readers three vestments that incorporate images and symbols that are certainly appropriate for this time of the liturgical year -- and in at least the first two instances, no doubt specifically intended for them.

The first chasuble certainly seems appropriate to Maundy Thursday, being liturgically white but otherwise containing various images and instruments of Christ's Passion. This combination (other than the usual inclusions of the Cross itself of course) is relatively rare, and as such, I would imagine it was quite likely designed specifically with Maundy Thursday in mind, a time of the liturgical year that not only commemorates the Last Supper, but also the beginnings of the arrest and torments of Christ that will reach their culmination on Good Friday.

Here we see references to Pilate's "ecce homo" as well as various other symbols of the Passion, such as the pillar, the scourges, the cock and so on.

Following this is, of course, Good Friday itself wherein we particularly focus upon the Passion, crucifixion and death of Christ, and here we see the front of a black Roman chasuble (the traditional liturgical colour of Good Friday in the Roman rite of course) that specifically includes images of events tied to Christ's Passion -- the seamless garment with the dice representing the lots cast for it at the foot of the Cross, as well as the pillar at which Christ was scourged.

Of course, following these days of the Sacred Triduum, we enter into the tomb for Holy Saturday until we are finally greeted by the joy and glory of the Resurrection at the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, fittingly shown here by way of this exquisite example of a 19th century French chasuble with  the symbol of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

Vestments are not merely trite aesthetic ornaments let it be remembered. Vestments, through their symbolism, whether explicit as in the first two instances especially, or more generally symbolic, tie back to the greater messages and meanings of the liturgical year and salvation history.

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