Laity Owning Old/Worn Vestments: Yes or No?


#1

Hello. I’m brand new here and this is my first post, so sorry if I’ve put it in the wrong place.

I’ve been considering purchasing old, worn and generally unusable vestment pieces such as maniples or stoles, and using them to make patterns which I’d use to make new ones with or to gain experience which I might use to repair existing vestments. Would this be licit, so to speak? Is there anything that would make this immoral or sinful? I’ve done this with other (secular) garments in the past, and it usually involves removing any stitching/seams in the garment and rendering it down to the smallest reasonable parts. Would this be considered desecration? Moreover, am I even allowed to own such items if I’m not a member of the Clergy?

Thanks in advance.


#2

Enlightening article on Catholic clergy vestments


#3

I lived in France for a while and while there I met a lady who had rescued many old vestaments, even church articles like ciboriums and chalices. She did this to keep them from falling into the wrong hands and would pay to have them restored and regifted to new parishes. I think she must have made God very happy.


#4

Welcome RwZiler.

In answer to your question, go for it! What you’re wanting to do with the vestments is a fitting use for them if they’ve gone beyond their best before date given it will no doubt help contribute towards the future production of more sacred vestments. Once you’ve finished you might want to burn the remaining fabric (including off-cuts) and scatter the ashes on a garden just in case the vestments were blessed.

Also if you’re just starting out and are likely to make some horrendous stuff ups, please start with the tacky / garish '80’s vestments, being sure to also burn them when you’re done (for very different reasons)! :grin:


#5

There is nothing wrong with what you suggest, and there is no prohibition against owning such items. I have a fair collection of liturgical furnishings from chalices and ciboria to santus bells and candle holders.


#6

Exegete, Can I be nosey and ask why you have a collection like this? If you’d rather not answer that’s ok I understand. I would just worry that by having them in a collection to look at they aren’t being used for what they were meant to be used for. Chalices and Ciboria held the Body Blood Soul Divinity of Our Lord I don’t know if I could own something like that if I weren’t a priest and not able to use them. Now the bells and candle holders are different.


#7

Of course. First, more than 20 years ago I developed an intense interest in the Mass. I began to read a great deal about its history, and its rubrics. This was not too long after eBay started. Old liturgical items were going for pennies on the dollar back then. My first purchase was a gorgeous antique bugia candle holder for $5.00 plus shipping. In one case I found a stunning chalice/paten/ciborium set at a garage sale that had belonged to the seller’s great uncle, for very little money.

I suspect most of the reason I collected was the same reason why people collect coins, or stamps or historic beer steins or what not, because of the furnishings’ beauty, antiquity and in some cases history. Certainly not to make money.

I also appreciate supplying all the sacred vessels and furnishings for both the Christmas and Easter Vigil Masses at my parish, or when the bishop visits. It makes a real difference. Were I to donate my collection, it would get destroyed and pieces would go missing in short order, as some, “particularly lay Mass insiders” do not share my interest in solemnity when it comes to such matters.


#8

Very nice of you to let them be borrowed for special occasions. So you are not Catholic? Wow! Being they are still used occasionally how do you store or display them when they are not being used? I just find it very interesting. Thanks for sharing.


#9

The Mary Mother of God Mission Society has a donor who takes old vestments and makes new items out of them (book marks, cell phone cases, Magnificat covers, Bible Covers, tote bags) that are sold to raise money for the mission.

It is wonderful to give new life to old vestments.


#10

Yes, I am Catholic Christian.

Storing them is another issue that causes me to ponder the collection sometimes. For a number of years the collection was stored in a closet in plastic boxes. My childhood friend then offered me what I would call a “china display case” which is about 7’ tall and 10’ long. It’s a stunning (if not ostentatious) piece of furniture that I had commented on my entire life, made of Claro walnut and glass. When they were closing down his folks’ house and no one wanted it, he called me. My wife relented and allowed me to set it up in our den. It really shows off the collection in a really amazing way. The whole set-up belongs in a parish museum one day, where they appreciate nice things.


#11

When you have too many, you might consider giving a chalice or complete set to a seminarian being ordained as priest? I am sure he would appreciate to have a set to bring with him when travelling or celebrating Mass by a sick bed.


#12

That really is a profoundly good idea. Thank you. The issue is that all of the wares are of classical, even “fancy” designs which often seem to be in disfavor with clergy today. The laity seem to love the pieces and some clergy recognize their historical importance, but I rather doubt they would want to actually own any of them? I will keep your input in mind though. Thank you.


#13

My parish priest actually prefers the “Bishop B” chalice who was ordained a bishop in 1893. I think it is the chalice the bishop was given when he was ordained but I need to confirm that. Until fairly recently it was the only chalice the parish had and it was enough as we are a young parish with a 20 year old church building. Our old parish priest brought with him larger chalices from India that we now use when the laity receive both the Body and Blood of Christ. The bishop´s chalice is still used during some weekday Masses when fewer come to Mass.

My guess is that priests would (prefer to) use the chalice and paten set they were given when they were ordained as a reminder of their ordination. Maybe not every Mass but some of them.


#14

No, nothing wrong at all - enjoy your study / admiration / repair of sacred vesture.

I always prefer vestments that are hand crafted over those made by large companies.

You may want to include modern vestments, too - there would be a larger market for those items as well.

Several times I have commissioned seamstresses to fashion a dalmatic to match an existing chasuble that we have - as they were not often made together in years past as a set.

Deacon Christopher


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