Vesting the Church: Venetian Velvets for Festal Church Decoration

One of the traditions of the Roman church is the utilization of red and gold hangings for the decoration of churches, including church doors, during festal times. It is a tradition which is mostly found in Italy and Malta. There is some speculation that this tradition was inherited from the ancient Romans' festival customs -- but I would note this is an angle which I have not, to date, investigated in any great detail, so I mention it purely by way of potential interest.  Whatever the case, the Christian Roman custom, as it came down to us, would see pillars festooned in red velvets and silks -- not to mention the decoration of the churches in box leaves and other flowers (once again, emulating an ancient Roman practice):
On all great and all titular festivals, basilicas and churches are hung with the... historical red drapery. And equally Roman is the sight and smell of the box leaves, called familiarly mortella, which are strewn at the entrance and up the nave and aisles of the Roman churches on festas and Stations. (Handbook to Christian and Ecclesiastical Rome: Part II - The Liturgy in Rome, p. 195.)
All of this is by way of introduction to a series of articles that recently came to my attention, written by the Venetian textile manufacturer, Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua (a firm awarded the title of "fornitore pontificio" of precious fabrics by both Pius XII and John XXIII respectively) where they shared some of their own textiles which have been used for this very purpose in some of the churches of Venice. Their first article comes in relation to the very iconic church of Santa Maria della Salute which sits at the mouth of Venice's grand canal -- shown here, decorated for its titular feast on November 21st.  More pictures are available in the article itself, but here's a little preview, showing the choir, as well as the decoration of the pillars on the high altar and one of the side altars.

The next article shows the church of St. Zulian, a frequently missed and hidden mid-16th century church of Venice, show here below fully 'vested' for a feast day.

Finally we come to the third article, which details the Cathedral of Caorle in the province of Veneto which has handwoven velvets made in the 1940's made in a pattern popularized in the 17th century. 

Those interested in this topic may also find some of our previous articles on this subject of iinterest:

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