- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI and some 250 assisting bishops will wear red-silk vestments designed in Connecticut and stitched together in Holland during Thursday’s Mass at Nationals Park.

Brian Baker, the designer, owns Baker Liturgical Art in Southington, Conn. He has been working around the clock on them and the chalices of his design for the three public Masses since mid-January. The other two Masses are at Yankee Stadium and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, both in New York.

“These vestments will be anything but standard,” he said. “They have kept us very busy.”

The New York vestments especially will be “quite striking,” according to Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York.

“We joked that they would be pinstriped with the Yankees ‘Y’ on them,” he said. “But that’s not going to happen.” PapalVestments.jpg

All the vestments come from Nijmegen, a city in the Netherlands, where they were manufactured by Stadelmaier BV.

They come with a rich lineage of symbolism dating back 2,000 years. According to Mr. Baker, the cross from the Archdiocese of Washington seal, which is also the cross on the Maryland flag, will be emblazoned on the vestments for the Mass at Nationals stadium.

The chasuble, which is the most visible and outermost vestment, will be red to symbolize the fire of the Holy Spirit, since Benedict will be celebrating the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

In New York, according to Mr. Baker, the vestments will be off-white in accord with the liturgical season of Easter to symbolize the triumph of Christ over death and His present glory. The vestments will have four small red crosses on them; an image derived from the New York archdiocese’s coat of arms that symbolizes the blood of Christ.

The vestments on the pope himself will be especially large and ornate because of the size of the baseball parks, Mr. Baker said.

At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the pope’s vestments and miter — the triangle-shaped ceremonial headdress that denotes a bishop — will resemble the architecture of the huge church by incorporating Gothic design characteristics, such as pointed arches.

Typically, the pope sports a white zucchetto (skullcap), a large white belt, white cassock and a white shoulder cape. Each color, sash, cape, robe, stick and hat is chosen for a specific reason to symbolize the various roles of the pope.

Papal liturgical clothing includes a miter, amice, alb, cincture, stole, chasuble and pallium.

As the bishop of Rome, Benedict will be wearing his own triangle-shaped miter while carrying the papal cross — a staff stopped by a crucifix restricted to papal use.

The amice is a short linen cloth that is white and square shaped. It hangs around the neck and covers the shoulders. It was traditionally worn in the Middle Ages to cover the head, hence its symbolism as a helmet of salvation derived from a New Testament passage in 2 Thessalonians 5:8.

The alb is an ample garment of white linen reaching down to the ankles and girded with the cincture, a simple cord. Historically, the alb was a long linen tunic worn by the Romans. All priests wear this vestment now as a symbol of innocence and purity.

The stole is a long scarf also worn in Roman times as symbol of one’s office. In the Catholic Church, it symbolizes a clergyman’s official priestly duty.

Regardless of color, the chasuble stands for the virtue of charity and the yoke of unselfish service to the Lord, said Monsignor Anthony Sherman, executive director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship for the U.S. Conference Catholic Bishops.

Worn over the chasuble is the pallium, a narrow band of white lamb’s wool. Pope Benedict’s particular pallium has little red crosses all over it, symbolizing the blood of Christ.

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