French Tastes: Two Red Vestments from Two French Cathedrals

Today I wished to share a chasuble taken from the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Le Puy-en-Velay.  There is some suggestion that the chasuble originates from the 17th century; I admit to having some doubts about such an early dating, though certainly there are some aspects to be found here which support that -- specifically the particularly 'genteel' quality of the embroidery. Regardless, it is not the age of the chasuble which is of primary interest here so much as it is the design -- which, of course, is clearly Pentecost themed both for reason of its colour and also its inclusion of a dove that appears to be radiating fire. 

There are some interesting aspects to the design aside from the nature of the embroidery. The first is the dove itself which is both nicely symmetrical and which also incorporates other elements of Pentecost as mentioned. 

The use of a Latin cross on the back is, of course, typical to French vestment work as is the repeating pattern found on the red velvet, made up in this instance of five pointed stars -- sometimes used as a symbol pointing to the five wounds of Christ. 

In addition a closer look at the design would suggest some sort of cameos have also been incorporated into the design, the one appearing to be the Virgin Mary. It is difficult to see these, but one might expect that these were items donated for this purpose. 

This type of design is indeed very typical to French vestment work as noted. As a point of comparison for example, the following chasuble used for the opening Mass at Notre Dame de Paris in 2018 for the beginning of the Chartres Pilgrimage shows very similar design instincts, this time including crosses instead of stars and the Agnus Deu instead of the dove. 

Given the interest many today have in the use of symbols on vestments, these provide for a very nice template for some design possibilities that could be considered.


Another similar example, this time taken from the Terra Sancta Museum I believe.

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