An Early Twentieth Century Requiem Set - A Mirror of its Time

The Very Rev. Christopher Marino, Record of the Cathedral of St. Mary in Miami, on our request sent us some photos of this rather unique set of black vestments that are in his possession. The set seems clearly of twentieth century vintage, produced in Belgium by Rene Lorrain et Cie Inc., a company based our of Paris, Brussels, New York and Lyon.  Believe it or not, this set was clearly not a bespoke offering, but rather a catalogue one -- you can see parts of this same set in Quebec for instance. 

The visual imagery of the set is clearly very much focused on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. Beginning with the cope we see on its hood Christ being presented to the crowds by Pontius Pilate while the front orphrey panels include images of Christ carrying the Cross, Veronica holding the veil, Peter in Denial and what I presume might be Judas Iscariot. 

The chasuble includes on its back a large image of the Crucifixion and, the front, once again an image of the veil of Veronica as well as the lance that penetrated the side of Christ on the Cross. 

The dalmatic and tunicle of the set both continue the theme and also shift it a bit. For example, the one dalmatic contains on its back an image of Christ crucified with Our Lady of Sorrows and the dice used to cast lots for Christ's seamless garments, the lance again and the vinegar/gall offered to Christ. 

The other, however, takes us beyond the Passion to the Resurrection, showing Christ emerging from the tomb, the two Roman soldiers seen sleeping at the entrance to the tomb. 

The front of both the dalmatic and tunicle continue this resurrection theme.

When the set is put together and worn as it is intended, the net result is one which symboliically speaks to themes of death as well as resurrection -- themes which are certainly pertinent to the Requiem Mass.

This particular imagery certainly speaks to two points of the period. The first was the growing interest in explicit Christian imagery that we saw arising in the late nineteenth and especially early twentieth century. The next is that it arguably reflects a pre-occupation of theologians of the time; namely, trying to counterbalance our sorrow at the death of a loved one, our prayers for their soul, with also a promotion of the remembrance of the Christian hope in the resurrection. In both of these regards, they are certainly quite representative of their particular time in history. 

Here are a few more details from the set. 

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