Vestments and Pontificals of Cardinal Vincenzo Maria Orsini

Cardinal Vincenzo Maria Orsini -- who would later become Pope Benedict XIII, reigning from 1724-1730 -- was a member of the Orsini family, one of the pre-eminent families of the Italian nobility, a family that would become particularly influential in Rome during the Renaissance. Cardinal Orsini, son of a duke, entered the Dominican order when he was but eighteen years old, abandoning his family inheritance in the process. It was here when he took the name "Vincenzo Maria" and would be ordained a priest in 1671.  One year later, in the year 1672, he would be named a cardinal by Pope Clement X, being given the titular church of San Sisto. A few years later he would be consecrated as a bishop as well -- and for those for whom this might seem confusing, it must be remembered that, historically speaking, cardinals were not necessarily also bishops even though in our own days they usually are. 

We are fortunate to have some of Cardinal Orsini's pontifical vestments still in our possession, and in this particular instance, we have a nearly complete set of his pontificals as well -- even rarer. Of course, what will be of most interest to our readers is this beautiful red chasuble which features a beautiful embroidered orphrey that includes his stemma within. It is dated to the first quarter of the eighteenth century (1700-1725) and stylistically is representative of the tastes and designs of the seventeenth. 

Detail of Cardinal Orsini's stemma

Stole and maniple. Take note of the metallic lace braid that is used on the ends of the stole and the maniple.

In the context of a Solemn Pontifical Mass, which the ornate quality of this chasuble and its corresponding pieces were intended, Cardinal Orsini would have also worn his pontificals, beginning with the precious mitre:

Next we have the red pontifical gloves that belonged to the cardinal.  Those who have seen pontifical gloves before will recognize how universal the style frequently was and how little they changed up to modern times.

Buskins were the equivalent of stockings, in this case liturgical stockings in the liturgical colour of the day. Already from Cardinal Orsini's time, they were frequently (though not always) made from silk lame. As a cardinal he would have been entitled to further ornamentation on these if he had so chosen, however this was rarely seen in practice.  

Finally we have Cardinal Orsini's pontifical sandals which, like the buskins and the rest of the vestments, were in the liturgical colour of the day. 

In the case of both the buskins and sandals, as with the gloves, one can see how consistent the style of these were up to modern times. One might well be looking at a pair from the twentieth century as much as from the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries. 

The one missing piece of Cardinal Orsini's pontificals are the pontifical dalmatic and tunicle. This is hardly a surprise as these were made of light silk or satin and would have more readily deteriorated than these other vestments. In that instance as well, little would be different from contemporary versions of the same -- and there is something quite comforting about this liturgical continuity. 

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