Book Notice: An Important Catalogue of Vestments from the Holy Land

I was very pleased to receive a copy of one of the more recent publications coming out of the Terra Sancta Museum, Paramenti sacri. Dall'Europa alla Terra Santa (Sacred Vestments: From Europe to the Holy Land) by Maria Pia Pettinau Vescina. The title tells you exactly what you can expect from this catalogue -- which is significant, incidentally, weighing in at 560 pages; it is "the first catalogue of the extraordinary collection of fabrics and liturgical vestments of the Custody of the Holy Land."

This is no run of the mill catalogue of vestments. This is a catalogue of precious vestments that were bestowed on the Holy Land by the Kingdoms and Princes of Europe and Princes of the Church alike. It is significant, then, not only for reason of its size, but also for reason of the importance and artistic quality of the vestments contained therein.

To date, most of the very best catalogues of vestments published have not been available in English language editions -- being more frequently in Italian or French. However, this particular one is in both English and Italian, thus making its research available to a much broader audience than has been the case to date.

That said, even were that not the case, the price of the book -- which is 120 EUR incidentally -- would be more than worthwhile for the images found in it alone (which are all in colour I might add).

The book is laid out such that you are presented with a full page colour image of a particular vestment which is then discussed on the opposing pages, frequently with additional colour images that may include closer details of the fabrics, embroideries or other pieces from the set.  To my mind, this is precisely how a catalogue of vestments should be laid out as it provides both a feast for the eyes and also food for the mind.

The catalogue is predominantly made up of chasubles and also includes dalmatics, tunicles, copes, antenpendia, mitres and a few other odds and ends as well (such as some pontificals, processional canopies and so forth).

In addition to other foreword material, there are also two essays which may interest our readers: "The Sacred Vestments of the Holy Land" by Maria Pia Pettinau Vescina and "Tradition and Continuity in the Liturgy: The Long Life of Vestments" by Fra Stephane Milovitch, OFM, the Director of the Cultural Heritage Office of the Custody.

However, what most of you will be after are the vestments themselves, so without further ado, here is just a small preview of some of the contents that await you in this excellent catalogue.

Chasuble from a pontifical set donated by Napoleon III, mid 19th century.
Detail from the same set showing one of the embroidered bees on the Napoloeonic pontifical set
A rose chasuble from Spain, mid 17th century
A 17th century antependium in black. 
Venetian, mid-17th century
Austrian, early 18th century
Neopolitan, 18th century
Madrid, 18th century
Spanish, 18th century
Viennese, 18th century
Spanish, 1720-1725
Spanish, 19th century
Portugese, late 18th century

While much of the work shown in the catalogue spans the 17th through 19th centuries, if your tastes and interests lean towards the "Other Modern," you will be pleased to know that this catalogue also has some decent representation of that school of design as well:

Viennese, 20th century
Viennese, 20th century
More examples of this period can be found in the catalogue -- not to mention many more spectacular examples from previous centuries.

For more information or to order:

Sacred Vestments: From Europe to the Holy Land
560 pp.
Edizioni Terra Santa. Milan, 2019
ISBN: 9788862407205
120.00 €

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