Article | April 26, 2022
Welcoming New Vestments at Grace Cathedral
Blog|The Rev. Canon Mark Stanger
Grace Cathedral is pleased to bless and inaugurate the use of a newly-commissioned set of vestments for festal worship services. The atelier of designer Julia Berger, specializing in high-quality custom textile products for domestic use, exceeded the expectations of the donors and design consultants for this addition to the cathedral’s active collection of liturgical vesture. This group of vestments exhibits extraordinary creativity in design and excellence in craftsmanship, with delicate hemstitching and hand embroidery on white linen showing a hint of sky blue featuring representations of Northern California flora and fauna. The set includes a group of copes (cape-like vestments worn by assisting ministers in processions and special services), a chasuble (designated for the priest or bishop presiding at a service of Holy Eucharist), appropriate accompanying stoles, and a magnificent full-sized fabric altar frontal for Grace Cathedral’s monumental Holy Table (high altar) of wood and stone.
The new ensemble will be blessed and employed in common prayer for the first time on Sunday, May 1 at 11:00 a.m. Choral Eucharist. One of the Sundays in the seven-week celebration of Eastertide coincides with the arrival of the cathedral’s new Vice Dean, the Rev. Dr. Greg Kimura.
The use of distinctive vesture for worship has a long tradition in both Eastern and Western Christianity, with many variations in shape or color yet within a generally accepted scheme according to the occasion, level of solemnity, feast or season. The primary vestment for all ministers is a plain white tunic called an alb or variations on it (e.g., surplice). It recalls the white robe of baptism and the imagined white robes of the martyrs, saints and prophets in glory. The vestments worn over the alb might be white, gold, green, red, blue, violet or other colors depending on the season or commemoration.
These newest vestments are appropriate for the Sunday of Easter and the fifty days which follow, for feasts of Christ or the mysteries associated with the life of Jesus (Christmas, Epiphany, Baptism of Jesus, Presentation, Transfiguration, etc.) and other important celebrations.
Grace Cathedral has a generally modest yet carefully curated store of vestments, from the simplest obtained from commercial suppliers to unique works by seasoned artist vestment makers. Some lively yet noble twentieth-century classic designs include those by the Stadelmaier Nijmegen, Slabbinck and Gaspard studios. The cathedral is blessed to have several works by Anna Crossley, and Katreen Bettencourt, as well as sturdy and beautiful examples from notables such as Marsh and Fisher.
We look forward to praying and celebrating the mysteries of our faith with the inspiration and beauty of this new festal set to accompany us.