Patrons of the Liturgical Arts: The Oratory in Mexico/Texas

Recently news came of an ordination coming out of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. While we generally automatically tend to think of the Oratory in relation to Rome and the United Kingdom, it is of course much broader than that and this particular Oratorian congregation is based in Texas.  LAJ was contacted about the ordination and there was a rather unique angle to it we felt. Namely, all of the primary vestments that were used for this ordination were all new commissions, done a traditional style, done in the Spanish style (which certainly makes a lot of cultural and contextual sense given the location) and all of them were made by one single firm (in this case Sacra Domus Aurea). 

The new pieces in question that were designed and made for this impressive ordination include the golden Spanish dalmatic and tunicle (complete with Spanish "collarin") as well as that worn by the bishop-celebrant. The precious mitre worn by the bishop-celebrant was also new for this ordination, as was his chasuble, the golden concelebrant chasubles (also in the Spanish style) and finally the ordinand's white chasuble itself -- which is a modified form of the famous blue Marian chasuble of the Cure d'Ars. 

It is always encouraging to see so much effort and attention to detail invested into the liturgical arts so I asked these Oratorians if they could provide us with a little context for how this all came together and here is what they had to say:

The Pharr Oratory of St. Philip Neri were very pleased with the beautiful work of art that Sacra Domus Aurea made for us on the occasion of the Ordination to the Priesthood of Rev. Sebastian Caballero, C.O. Since we live on the border with Mexico and form part of the Mexican Federation of Oratories, the Spanish cut chasubles are commonly used here in the Rio Grande Valley as well as in Mexico. One of the first Oratories to be established in Mexico date back to the 1600’s. Rev. Jose Losoya, C.O. was the one who first contacted Sacra Domus Aurea to see if it would be possible to replicate an ancient Spanish style pattern for both the chasubles and dalmatics that we would be using for the Ordination Mass. We were sent several pictures and proposals for the embroidery that were fitting for a priestly ordination, including grapes, vines, and wheat flowers. You will also notice some other flowers, a variation of the lily since our patron St Philip Neri is depicted with a lily and has become part of our crest to represent his purity. For the dalmatics we opted for a more traditional style and asked her to make us the collars with the tassels. Since we were opting for this, we decided not to include tassels on the dalmatics themselves since the deacons would be using the collars.

In regards to the chasuble used by the newly ordained priest; he spoke with Anamaria at Sacra Domus Aurea to customize it for this special day. She was able to put the Oratorian coat of arms on the front center of the chasuble, beautiful rendition of the heart on fire (heart of St Philip) and the three stars that forms part of the Neri crest. The one rule St. Philip Neri left this community was charity, as an Oratory we do not take vows but live as religious; praying, living, and eating together under one roof. We also have as our apostolate the parish life of St. Jude Thaddeus in Pharr and the Oratory Schools Mexico as in the United States. With this in mind we customized the back of the chasuble to read at the edge: DEUS CARITAS EST and placed an image of the Trinity at the center of the embroidered cross. The cut of this type of chasuble is quite unique for its French style cut but curves at the bottom almost like a semi conical chasuble. We chose this cut to accommodate a priest of shorter stature and this cut seemed to best apart from the Spanish cuts. 
Most people seemed shocked at first that we were commissioning these vestments to be worn by the celebrant and his ministers but once they saw it come together, I can tell they were well pleased. 
The mitre that was made to honor Pope Benedict XVI that Sacra Domus Aurea shared shortly after his passing came at a providential time since we wanted to gift the presiding bishop a mitre as a sign of gratitude and love for having ordained our brother to the Order of the Priesthood. It turns out that this particular mitre fit the vestments and the environment so well, it was surely all God’s providence.

As Oratorians we strive to help others pray and grow in holiness. Understanding the significance of these vestments and beautiful liturgy are key to getting a glimpse into the mystery of God’s presence upon our altar. Everything we did was for the greater honor and glory of God, not to look like peacocks and show off our feathers. It is essential for the person of the priest to disappear and allow Christ to shine forth, that they may see Christ act and move about in the world, baptizing it with his Blood and sanctifying it.

Here are a few more pictures from the ordination.

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