More Examples of Memento Mori in Vestment Design

Over the years, LAJ has shown photos of many instances of vestments that include reminders of our mortality, called "memento mori" in Latin. As was noted then, their use is not rooted in morbidity nor is it macabre in intent; this is a modern viewpoint that has come about solely as a result of such symbols having been appropriated by other cultural influences for entirely different purposes and meanings, but walk through many a basilica and church of Catholic Europe and one will find these things serving as a reminder of the vanities of the world and the unavoidable fact that this life will end  (so make certain your soul is prepared for the next one). 

In the realm of vestments these symbols -- these reminders -- were primarily reserved to black vestments which are of course used within the context of requiem Masses and traditionally on Good Friday. The contextual association should be reasonably obvious.  We have two more examples to show today, the first coming from within the context of the French tradition. 

Within the French tradition I have frequently come across black vestments which utilize white orphrey crosses. This creates for an interesting pairing, especially in the light of contemporary desire to emphasize both the sombreness and mournfulness of death (black), but also our Christian hope in the Resurrection (white). Here is an example of just such a usage (and do also take note of the ornamental black and white fringe which lines the edges of the vestment):

The chasuble includes images of skulls and cross-bones, with the back also containing an image of the crucifixion. Tear drops also form a part of the design which would come with reference to sorrow, weeping -- and potentially also purgatorial references such as cleansing and relief. A chasuble such as this could be have been used either on Good Friday or for requiem Masses.  

While no dating information was provided, I suspect that this dates from the very early years of the nineteenth century -- though it is possible that the orphrey itself is earlier. 

The second example is earlier, coming from the sixteenth century, and given its shape and style, it is rooted in the Spanish or Austrian tradition. This design includes the typical floriated motifs one would expect from this period with skulls set into cartouches. In addition to this, if one looks closely at the designs one will see there are also other bones to be found there. 

Some details from the chasuble of the set:

The last three examples come from Spain. Regrettably I know little about them, but here they all the same. The first is dated to the sixteenth century. 

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