11 May 2016

The Five Kilo Chasuble

"We'll put out the five kilo chasuble" said Reverend Mother through the grille. "It dates from when our House was opened in Antwerp in 1619. But we'll also put out a lighter chasuble in case it's too much for you."

Of course, I wore the five kilo chasuble, its embroidery a heavy riot of baroque cornucopiae. How could one resist such a challenge? After Mass, as I left the Chapel, and looked at the gravestones surrounding the first millenium crucifix outside the door, this one caught my eye: Beneath is interred the Rev Louis Dourlen Chaplain of Lanherne formerly priest of the Diocese of St Omers and Canon of Arras Cathedral 1839. Aged 85.

It suddenly dawned upon me that M le Chanoine would very probably have worn that five kilo chasuble; that he must have been a gentleman clergyman who had left France during its Revolutionary troubles. I later discovered (George Oliver, Collections, page 287) that Dourlen joined, for a while, the considerable community of French emigres in Bath where "he was much respected and esteemed for his integrity and polished manners"; he was gout-ridden but never wore spectacles. He had lived through the years when Arras Cathedral was demolished; when the ambiguities of the Oath, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and of the Concordat tried the consciences of the Clerus Gallicanus; the days in 1799 when "the last pope" died a prisoner of the triumphant French republican regime

Ambiguities; ruptures; continuities. Does the life of the Church really change much?


Grumpy Beggar said...

Ecclesiastes 1:8-9 [NAB]

"All speech is labored; there is nothing man can say. The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear filled with hearing.

What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun."

Even the Five Kilo Chasuble may have been done before Padre: A priest friend of mine (member of the M.Afr.) who'd been my spiritual director for approximately 7 years, was telling me that during his 30-year sojourn in Africa , much of the liturgical attire they had access to had been "donated" from sources in various countries.

He spoke of several "winter chasubles" in their possession which had originated from that territory which blessed us with both a son who became Benedict XVI, and several other, um , sons -slightly more wayward in their disassembled thinking ; the latter all having obtained their respective degrees in (your designation) knockwurst theology.

At any rate, he said there was one chasuble which was so stiff and heavy that it could easily have been stood up in the corner in the event that no space could be found to hang it on.

He lays claim to having worn it only once . . ."under the" African "sun".

Ben of the Bayou said...

Dear Father H,

If I may be permitted a somewhat off topic question, do you know of a licit way that a Priest could celebrate a Mass (usus antiquior) in honor of Our Lady of Fatima this Friday, perhaps commemorating the great S Robert Bellarmine?