Wednesday, April 4


Mitre'd Joy

In response to my observations on the vestiture of this game, Fr. Christopher pointed out that French and English monastics have a tradition of wearing the Mitre with various forms of choir dress.

He sent along the following impressive pictures, from his abbey of St. Wandrille, in France.

1. Henry VIII, still Catholic, opening Parliamant. Note the Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, sitting next to Archbishop Wareham, with a red hat floating over his head. The abbots, sitting behind the bishops on the spiritual side, are wearing cowls and precious mitres. The bishops are wearing parliamentary mantles, which C of E bishops still wear at the state opening.

2. Dom Pothier and two bishops c. 1900. One of the bishops seems to be wearing vestments. The other bishop and Dom Pothier are wearing rochet and manteletta, with croziers and precious mitres. Abbots used to wear a sort of episcopal choir dress of the colour of their habit. Few Benedictine abbots do so now. It was invented for commendatory abbots, that is to say for abbots who didn't have the right to wear the monastic habit.

3. The rabat is clearly visible in this one.

4. A "croix de Lorraine" embroidered on Dom Pothier's mitre is clearly visible. The mitre is in the mitre cupboard in the sacristy. A visiting abbot, who had forgotten to bring his own, wore it a few years ago.

5. The apostolic nuncio to France, Blessed Angelo Roncalli, under the watchful eye of my predecesor's predecesor as master of ceremonies, arrives to sing pontifical Mass in the ruins of the gothic abbey church during the triduum of celebrations for the 13th centenary of the foundation of the monastery, July 1949.

6. Abbots process out of the cloisters, in cowl and "mitra auriphrygiata."

7. The end of Mass. Just before leaving the sacristy before Mass, the nuncio announced that he wanted all the abbots and bishops present to bless the faithful as they processed out at the end of Mass. Our abbot was sure he had misunderstood, and asked the Mgr Roncali to repeat himself. The nuncio obliged, and made it perfecly clear that this is what he wanted them to do. The abbot in white is Dom Paul Grammont, abbot of Le Bec.

8. At the top, the abbot is bearing a relic of St. Wandrille, the founder of the monastery, prior to Vespers the evening before. Just to the right of the assistant priest, the four cantors in copes. The precentor's staff can be seen in the middle. Bottom left, abbots arrives for Mass; Bottom right, relics of our saints carried in the procession.

9. The simplex mitre with cowl: on 1st March 1968, blessing of the corner stone of our new abbey church.

10. Same as above.

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