Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Historic Vestments from Brixen

Regular readers will be aware that I have something of an eye for historic vestments, and especially those from the medieval era. In August Shawn Tribe posted the article I have copied and pasted below on his Liturgical Arts Journal website. It is entitled ‘Vestments from the Treasury of the Cathedral of Brixen’

An interesting collection of antique vestments are on display at the diocesan museum of Bressanone. Nicola de Grandi was recently there and took a number of photographs showing some of the collection. As it has been some while since we have featured antique vestments it is a great opportunity, particularly since many of the examples are medieval and thus far more rare to come across.

Before we get to Nicola's photgraphs, I should speak to the one immediately above, taken from the website of the museum. It too is from the collection and shows the "Albuin Chasuble" and is dated to around 1000 A.D. It is made of purple Byzantine silk. Nicola provides a detail:

Next we have another violet chasuble, this time with the classic Y orphrey which many of us are already more than familiar. I do not have the precise dates for this item but it is clearly medieval; I would place it from around 12th-14th century. 

Next we have this beautiful cope which I would place from around the 16th century. The textile used in the cope is an often seen, classic design. Attentive readers will also note the gold fringing that goes around the bottom of the cope -- a feature common to many vestments of that era which likely served both an ornamental and practical purpose. 

There are some particularly interesting pontificals that also form a part of the collection. These are always of particular interest to me as many dismissively associate these with the Renaissance and Baroque periods, but in actuality, they have existed for a great deal longer.

First we have a pair of pontifical sandals -- shoes worn liturgically by prelates in solemn liturgies -- coming from the 14th century. (Behind are a pair of pontifical buskins dated to the 15th century.)

Here too are a pair of pontifical gloves (sometimes called gauntlets) coming from the 15th century -- the ornamental decorations date to the 11th century.

Another set coming from the 14th century:

Next we have three medieval mitres. The precious mitre is from the mid 15th century, while the other two are likely earlier. One will note the changing shape and proportions of the mitres.

While we are on the subject of prelatial headdress, here is a cardinal's galero coming from the 16th century:

Finally, a slightly more modern chasuble, no doubt 18th century in its origins.

A detail of the stemma:

Photo credits: Nicola de Grandi
The Clever Boy will append two Wikipedia links on the history of the bishopric and diocese - the great Nicholas of Cusa held it in the fifteenth century - and which can be viewed at Prince-Bishopric of Brixen and Roman Catholic Diocese of Bolzano-Brixen
As a final comment the Clever Boy will point out, if it is necessary so to do, that so far as he is concerned Brixen-Bressanone is still part of the domains of the Emperor of Austria...

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