Medieval Lace Albs of St. Francis and Pope Boniface VIII

While the use of lace as a form of ecclesiastical ornamentation generally tends to be thought of as something particular to the baroque period, in actuality its use, ecclesiastically speaking, can be traced back at least as far as the Middle Ages. Two extant examples that I am familiar with in this regard are the albs attributed to St. Francis of Assisi and Pope Boniface VIII.

The  alb of St. Francis (who lived from A.D. 1181-1226) is preserved in the convent of St. Clare in Assisi. Here is a look at it:

If you are perhaps thinking that is just some sort of brocaded textile apparel, here is a closer look where you will see the actual lace work.

The alb of Pope Boniface VIII (from circa 1298) is located within the treasury of the Sistine Chapel and perhaps takes on a form that is more immediately recognizable to modern eyes in this regard:

Here again is a detail of the lace work:

The medieval period also utilized other forms of ornamentation in this regard of course -- generally coming in the form of textile apparels found on the hem of the alb, the cuffs, and the amice. While these are generally considered the predominant form coming from this particular time and in this particular regard, it is good to be aware of the fact that ornaments such these shown above did find expression also within this period of ecclesiastical history.

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