Memento Mori Vestments for All Souls Day

Over the years we've shown some very interesting vestments for All Souls Day (not to mention other liturgical objects such as candlesticks, missal cushions, covers and processional banners) and we have even made a case for why we believe this tradition is important to revive in our own time. Today we wished to continue on our tradition in this regard by showing a few more such vestments we have come across lately. These examples are quite a bit more simple than some of those we have shown you previously, but for some of our readers, that will certainly be a part of their appeal. 

For those who are new to this subject of "memento mori" perhaps a brief comment is in order. Memento mori are intended to be reminders of our own mortality. The purpose of remembering our mortality is first and foremost to remind us to give consideration to the state of our soul. Secondarily it is a reminder to pray for the repose of the souls of our deceased. In other words, it is not a macabre "celebration of death" -- it is acknowledgement of it and remembrance of eternity. 

So with that in mind, here are just a few more examples of this genre of vestment (though I would also encourage you to click on the links above for a more detailed and thorough review).

This first example is rather interesting insofar as the memento mori included specifically shows a skull wearing a mitre -- a reminder that death comes to everyone, from the regular person to princes and popes. There is nothing new about this type of representation, but it is always interesting to see depicted -- it is conceivable that this chasuble even belonged to a prelate, thereby giving it an even more personal meaning.

18th century, Italian

Next we have the chasuble and cope that formed a part of a Solemn Mass set. It shows a fairly classic image of skull and cross bones set on top of a book -- which could symbolize any number of things. The dalmatic and tunicle from this set contained the same image. 

19th century

The cope, on the other hand, includes a small image showing the holy souls of purgatory. 

Of course, memento mori are not solely comprised of skulls and bones; another common symbol is found here on this chasuble dated to the 19th century which shows a winged hourglass symbolizing "tempus fugit" -- literally "time flies," (hence the wings and hourglass). The meaning here is that it reminds us that our time here on Earth passes rapidly and one must always be prepared to meet one's maker. 

19th century. 

Of course, vestments such as these were not solely intended for use on All Souls Day. The symbolism of these works apply to Requiem Masses more generally. 

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