Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Saint Salvator's Cathedral Bruges I.

There will be plenty of pictures of places in Bruges over the next few weeks, interspersed with the usual newsround, but here are some pictures taken in the treasury of Saint Salvator's, the Cathedral of Bruges. It was by no means the most beautiful Church in that town, but was a fine example of it's kind. This monstrance typifies, for me, the horrible fashion for applying items of jewellery and gemstones to monstrances and other silver in memory of a loved one. Usually it disfigures the piece and adds a strange clanking sound to the elevation of the sacred Species. This, however, is a milder example of the horror that usually encountered.

Here is a fine piece indeed, typical of the late Baroque style of surrounding the rays of glory with stylised clouds. La Flamelle, the great Belgian silversmith, began a school of artisan workers in the Northern Belgian area, I have no information as to the provenance of this piece, but would guess at his inspiration.

A few ciboria. I am very keen on the imposition of a crown atop these pieces. Rare, Belgian and expensive, just like modern day Bruges!

And what a beautifully designed set of rooms! The clutter of the display cabinets somewhat detracts from the beautiful sight line into the next room, but look at the accuracy of architecture in the doorway.

Leading to this fine fireplace and vaulted ceiling in what was once the Bishop's throne room.

This suspicious looking object is a reliquary of the Holy House of Loreto, which, you will remember, flew over much of mainland Europe before landing in Loreto. There is a great devotion to this remarkable happening in Bruges, although this reliquary has a not entirely flattering resemblance to a gas mask. Similarities to the Holy House of Walsingham which, alas, has not been known to fly, are interesting and comforting.

This Holy House is high up in the Cathedral roof and brought a smile to my face. I love these representations of piety, so utterly baffling to those not in the know. I feel that they draw people into the faith and interest them, most feel that they do the opposite. I am used to being in a minority by now, so do not really care.

And here is a picture of the Holy House flying over the Mediterranean, a little flag flying at the front, presumably to warn other passing Holy Houses.

Here, back down to earth, is a High Mass set worn in the Cathedral on Gaudete Sunday and displayed here. It was not really rose at all, in my eyes, but the lighter purple now sometimes referred to as 'Passion Purple'. Whatever the shade, it was a beautiful set.

A peek into a Canons wardrobe reveals a boat big enough to hold the quantity of incense required to fuel a thurible big enough to provide smoke for a Gothic Cathedral, as well as a very fine mozetta. Wippell's catalogue provides value by showing a Canon in similar vesture, alas, the onset of concelebration in Prestwich has robbed our chorus line of Canons from their once admired finery.

The Bishop's hat, gloves and slippers. Not used very much, I dare say. Many people are unaware that the colour proper to a Bishop is in fact green, hence the green tassels on the rim, which are not rotten grapes, but a mark of office.

A red cope with magnificent crewel work orphreys (newcomers will think this a new language, orphreys are the embroidered panels) in the strongroom. This was a gift from the Vatican, I was informed, although I do not know when.

It shows an embroidered scene at the hood. This is not unlike the teletubbys who can show television on their stomachs. The cope shows an educational scene on the back.

And this magnificent piece shows the nativity of Our Lord on the hood. Fraelfel (I think) of Switzerland used a very similar style of manufacture and stitching as well as very similar, distinctive colours in their superb work. This is much earlier, I think. Pictures of the Saint Hilda's crib this year and the inside of the Cathedral tomorrow. Pray for us as we pray for you.