Contemporary Traditional: A Green Cope in the Italian Tradition

It was only a few weeks ago that I featured Sacra Domus Aurea as part of LAJ's 'bespoke' vestment designers series, but in the short time since then they have been putting out some amazing work that I would like to showcase while still 'fresh.' 

As I have noted in the past, their work falls squarely into the 18th and 19th century Italian and French traditions of design and one of the measures I take for these things is this: What, in my 'daily scroll' through the filter and noise that is the internet, will cause me to stop and scroll back? Others who have likewise spent years and decades looking at and studying vestments will understand. You see a lot of things, but some things catch your eye. If something is able to do that, then that is one of my measures for a well executed and interesting design.

One such item was this green cope which falls squarely within the Italian tradition.

The proportions on this cope are excellent. For those not familiar with the ribbons seen at the top of the hood, this is a common design aspect found within the Italian tradition being either ornamental or, in some cases, real ties that allow the hood of the cope to be attached and detached.  The textile here is very nice as well, giving an ample amount of green but with gold and blue highlights. (The addition of more than simply gold in the brocade is noteworthy because it is what gives this particular design an additional layer of visual interest akin to much 18th century work.)  Do also take note of the gold galloon at the bottom hem of the cope (a feature often not considered), the 'Solominic column' style wavy galloon on the hood, and tasseled fringe on the hood (which falls very nicely -- not all such fringe does, especially in a time where it is nearly impossible to find the old style, true metallic gold fringe).

Some have asked me when such a cope would be used liturgically. In the usus antiquior it would be used in any liturgical context other than the Low Mass as well as public celebrations of the Divine Office. For the modern rite, copes of colours other than white are generally utilized for the latter, though they could find other uses as well.

Let's take a look at the front of the cope:

Here again, everything is as it ought to be for this Italian style of cope.

Incidentally, one aspect of vestment design that many a layman doesn't stop to consider is how the designer must also determine how to organize and layout the patterns found on the textile in such a way that the benefit the beauty, order and symmetry of the completed design. It isn't simply a case of finding the material and cutting it up haphazardly. Certainly all of the vestment designers we have featured here exhibit this particular skillset. A good example of that skill in practice can be seen here in this green pastoral stole which Sacra Domus Aurea also completed recently:

A point of further note: I really like how the light catches the tasseled fringe here and this photo gives a very good view of it. It is this sort of play of light that has often been found lacking in much 'modern' design work since the 1960's and it is good to see it making a comeback -- though it isn't always easy to find the raw materials to work with suffice it to say.

This play of light not only brings its own beauty, it also highlights the particular textural qualities of the material and details such as these are what often make the difference in vestment design. (The same can be said of the galloon trims seen here.)

Finally, here is another pastoral stole recently completed, this time in violet/purple, here again utilizing a lampas brocade that incorporates other colours, this time a very complimentary rose and pale green:

There is one other work that I intended to showcase, but I think for the present moment this gives more than enough to consider, so I will save that for another day.

In the meantime, if you would like more information, please visit Sacra Domus Aurea on social media.

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