The Pentecost Pontifical High Mass Set of Westminster Cathedral

As we are still within the Octave of Pentecost, I thought you may like to learn something of Westminster Cathedral's Pentecost set. In the late 1920s, Cardinal Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster, commissioned for the Cathedral, from A. E. Grosse of Belgium, a Pontifical High Mass set. No mean undertaking.

The present Cardinal Archbishop wearing the chasuble in 2018
Grosse were very much at the heart of the Liturgical Movement, outstanding for the quality both of their design and workmanship. Westminster Cathedral a leading light in the Movement in the English speaking world, working hard to maintain standards of liturgy: daily celebrating the full office, and a daily High Mass. I think the only cathedral in the English speaking world to do so. For this purpose it ran a choir school, and also sought out the best quality vestments for use in its worship.

The chausble & one of the dalmatics
This set was to be no exception to this. It consists of: 6 copes, 4 dalmatics, 1 chasuble, 1 tunicle (for the subdeacon of the cross), 1 humeral veil, 2 stoles, 3 maniples, 1 gremial, 1 chalice veil, 1 burse, 1 lectern fall, & various book covers for missal, gospel book, etc. The style of this set is usually referred to as "Byzantine"; very much in keeping with the architecture of the cathedral.

The principal cope
So significant is this set that it is included, wreathed in glowing praise (not a common thing!), in Dom Eugene Roulin, OSB's work "Vestments & Vesture", a work which will be familiar to many here.

The plate in "Vestments & Vesture"
The decoration of this set relies heavily of strong applique work easily visible, and effective, from a distance: a necessity in so huge a church as Westminster Cathedral. However, the work close to is also very fine, with handsome touches such as the use of moonstones in the decoration of the dalmatics & copes.

At about this time, at least two other pontifical sets were commissioned, a white set, again from Grosse, which also includes a frontal, and a green set of unknown origin, in a more celtic design. I hope to be able to show you something of these sets at some point.

The photos of the set, and many others besides may be found here and here.

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