ROME (C.M. Paul) – Next week is the consistory for the newly appointed cardinals. Some of the paraphernalia (outfits) for the occasion are custom made to the tune of 30,000 (thirty thousand) plus US dollars.
Start with the Miter, a pointy hat the bishop wears whenever he does rituals. He has to have two kinds for a pontifical high mass, precious and plain gold.
Under the miter he wears a zucchetto, a little purple beanie.
Moving on we start with the bottom layer…. a purple cassock with a matching sash. Although bishops get to wear black cassocks with purple trim, the proper one for saying Mass is the purple one.
Around his neck he wears a pectoral cross with a special braided cord.
Over the cassock for mass he starts with an amice, a rectangular piece of linen, a remnant of a hood. Then comes the alb, the long white robe. The bishops gets to wear ones trimmed with lace at the cuffs and at the bottom half. The cincture is a braided rope worn around the waist, sort of like a belt.
The stole is worn around the neck and extends down below the waist. It matches the outer vestment in color and material. On the right arm he wears a maniple, a narrow strip of the same material as the stole. It looks like the napkin a waiter has over his arm.
Next comes the tunic, the outer vestment proper to the subdeacon. Over that he wears a dalmatic which is identical in basic style and cut but which has a distinguishing bar that differentiates it from the tunic. This is the outer vestment proper to the deacon. The bishop wears both because he has the “fullness of the holy orders.”
Finally the top garment is the chasuble, the vestment proper to the celebrant of the Mass.
The buskins are leggings or booties, kind of like the lining of arctic boots but made of silk. They used to keep his feet warm before churches were heated.
The final touches are ceremonial shoes and gloves. Bishops, archbishops and cardinals also wear a ring which is supposed to symbolize their wedded state to the diocese. Rings can be simple or ornate, with expensive stones.
Color coordination is everything. The chasuble, tunic, dalmatic, stole, maniple, buskins, shoes and gloves all have to be of the proper liturgical color and all obviously have to match. This means that the well-dressed bishop has to have at least four separate sets (white, red, green and purple) and if he is really high fashion, he’ll also have gold, rose and black.
A pontifical high mass requires a cast of people…sort of like a society wedding that requires a team of bridesmaids and groomsmen. The celebrant who is the bishop, is obvious. He is assisted by the deacon, sub-deacon, archpriest and two deacons of honor. They all wear vestments that match the celebrant.
Watch out for the best dressed cardinal in this consistory parade. He could have the following ready made items with a similar price tag. (If custom made, it will cost far more). All prices in Euro. Chasuble = 9000, Alb = 550, Amice = 40, Cassock = 550, Sash = 175, Socks = 20, Shoes = 800, Buskins = 320, Tunic = 500, Dalmatic = 500, Gloves = 1000, Zucchetto = 125, Biretta = 250, Pectoral Cross = 1800, Cord for Cross = 250, Miter = 6000. Grand Total = 21,880.oo (Euro) = 30,011.oo (USD), INR 1,333,618.oo
WHERE TO GET THE OUTFITS
The outer threads, the chasubles, tunics, miters, gloves and shoes from an outfit in Rome known as Ars-Regia. Their web site is http://www.tridentinum.com. The other stuff, the socks, zucchetto, biretta, cassocks etc. probably come from Gammarelli, the most prestigious tailor in Rome. That’s the place where the pope gets his white cassock. The bling comes from a variety of places in Rome and elsewhere.
On a serious note
Although this virtual fashion show is a combination of humor and sarcasm, underneath that there is a very serious issue. At Vatican Council II, almost half a century ago, the bishops of the entire church agreed that it was time to simplify the titles, honors and dress of the hierarchy in a spirit of poverty. After the council ended this attitude was put into practice when the simplification was officially decreed.
The return to the pre-Vatican world, blessed by Benedict XVI, has brought back the extravagant and anachronistic vesture of a church long gone. There is a fundamental disconnect between Pope Benedict’s constant criticism of secularism and the ultra-expensive ecclesiastical materialism so obvious in the obsession with the lavish finery that has re-appeared on the scene.
THE FINAL PUNCH
When prophet Jonah preached repentance, the king of Nineveh abandoned his royal clothes and put on sack cloth and ashes as mark of penitence.
John the Baptist was dressed in camel skin and preached conversion in the wilderness on the Jordan river.Mohandas K Gandhi put away his European style dress and put on Indian villager’s loin cloth when he led satyagraha for India’s freedom.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta put away her religious habit and wore a sweeper woman’s home-spun cotton saree when she started her street ministry.
I know of several Bishops in India who have adopted simple style of dressing even during official and liturgical functions…
The dress makes a statement…
It all depends what statement one wishes to make!