Death and Resurrection: Combining Memento Mori with Symbols of Christian Hope

With All Souls and the month of the Holy Souls fast approaching, I thought I would take a moment to feature a contemporary vestment work that includes memento mori, but with a twist. While many Catholics have no objections to their use (and in fact, if the interest shown online is any indicator, they are actually extremely compelling and of great interest to a large segment of Catholics), Catholics that were in particular formed by the 1970's through 1980's sometimes feel reservations, not just about memento mori (many of them aren't even familiar with such things) but even more basically the liturgical colour black. 

There are plenty of reasons why this reservation is, I believe, misguided, but I won't go into that as it is a subject we have dealt with many times before. Suffice it to simply say that black is a culturally recognized and well established form of mourning and perfectly expresses our sense of sorrow and sombreness at death. It's use, therefore, is entirely pastoral. But the objection here as some express it is that they feel they want to also acknowledge Christian hope in the Resurrection. 

In times of sorrow and mourning, most people aren't exactly in a place where they are looking to be told to "buck up" -- indeed, it comes off as cold and insensitive -- but certainly giving glimmers of the silver-lining is entirely reasonable.

Traditionally this might be understood to be reflected in the use of gold and silver in the ornamentation of such vestments, but today I wanted to share another, even more explict approach that has come out of the atelier of Sacra Domus Aurea.  In this instance, memento mori in the form of a skull and crossed bones is present, but surrounding them as a remind of the Christian hope in the resurrection, are lilies -- which are, of course, symbols of resurrection, hence why they are used at Easter. 

This theme is continued up the rest of the design of the orphreys on front and back:

This particular approach could well provide a pastoral answer to those who wish to seek the re-introduction of memento mori in vestment work (which, as has been addressed here before, there seem to be many good reasons for).

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