Of Vesture – I

As the 5th December deadline approaches for the submission of theses for the Cardiff LLM (Canon Law) and this year’s six candidates begin to ponder on whether to purchase the academic hood (Oxford style, Cardiff Red hood, lined with Royal Blue silk), they might extend a degree of sympathy to another groups of six:

James Harvey, the American head of the Papal Household; His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Raï, patriarch of the Maronite Church in Lebanon; His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, head of the Syro-Mankar Church in India; Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja; Archbishop Rubén Salazar Gómez of Bogota, Colombia and Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in the Philippines,

who were appointed cardinals by Benedict XVI last weekend on 23rd November.

The appointment is not without its financial implications and using the current prices list of Gammarelli, (traditionally tailor to the Pope, but with a nice line in silk cassocks for Anglo-Catholics), Vatican Insider has estimated that the price of the Cardinal’s ‘tat’ can be €4,000 to €5,000.  It is customary for Cardinals to purchase two sets, for which

‘[t]he red mozzetta which cardinals wear with their choral vestments, costs about 200 Euro, but the price goes up if one chooses cord buttons – which are hand-made and more sought after (they cost 20 Euro each) – instead of cloth buttons. The red cassock costs approximately 800 Euro, while the three-cornered hat without a bow, which is typical for cardinals, can cost between 80 and 120 Euro. The red and golden cord for the pectoral cross costs around 80 Euro: the price varies according to how elegant it is and the size of the bow on the back. The red fascia which is worn with the red cassock and the black cassock with red piping, costs about 200 Euro. A black cassock with red piping costs approximately 600 Euro, while the cardinal’s red zucchetto is priced at around 40 Euro. Finally, the red socks cost about 15 Euro for a pair.’

In contrast, Lambeth Palace has announced that Archbishop Rowan has returned the robes given him by the people of Wales on his enthronement ten years ago.  All items of the robes – the cope, mitre and stole, morse and rochet – were designed and made in Wales and funded by an anonymous donation.  They have remained the property of the people of Wales and have been handed to the President of the National Museum Wales, where the robes will be a leading exhibit to demonstrate contemporary Welsh craftsmanship.

No doubt some will question the justification or need for senior churchmen to wear costly vestments and others will draw significance from those of the Archbishop ending in a museum.  These may also be among the 12 million people who visit English cathedrals and royal peculiars every year, or who will boast of ‘how well we do ceremonial in England’.  This is an area of easy headlines but a difficult balancing of priorities.

2 thoughts on “Of Vesture – I

  1. Pingback: Religion and Law roundup: 2nd December – Advent I | Law & Religion UK

  2. Pingback: Religion and Law roundup: 2nd December – Advent I | Law & Religion UK

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