Passion Cross on Ash Wednesday Chalice Veil

Finally, it is time to start a new Ecclesiastical Sewing project for the New Year. The first project in the works is the Chalice Veil for Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday Chalice Veil Project with Black/Gold Dice Trim
Ash Wednesday Chalice Veil Project with Black/Gold Dice Trim

The fabrics and trims are all decided………..well, almost all decided.  The chalice veil will be the black Fairford fabric, with the Black and Gold Wakefield used as the orphrey.  The black/gold dice trim will edge the orphrey. The only minor issue is how to easily let the altar guild and Pastor know the correct positioning of the chalice veil when it is in use.

The simple answer is to add a cross on the front. But a simple answer can also raise a host of further questions.  For example, what type of cross should be used?

Ecclesiastical Cross Embroidery Designs
Ecclesiastical Cross Embroidery Designs

Crosses are pretty basic, right?  One is the same as the next. Easy task, or so I thought. I reviewed a file with over 160 cross designs, and nothing, not an iota, not a dot, seemed like it was the right cross design.  The crosses were too fancy, to complex, too simple, too large, too small,  wrong scale, and on and on.  This will never do.  So how does one find the correct cross for use on an Ecclesiastical Embroidery project?  It was time to pull out the symbol books. Luckily, a few new ones had recently arrived.

Church Symbolism by F.R. Webber and Symbols and Emblems of Early and Medieval Christian Art by Louisa Twining
Church Symbolism by F.R. Webber and Symbols and Emblems of Early and Medieval Christian Art by Louisa Twining

The first is Church Symbolism by F.R. Webber and Ralph Adams Cran, originally published in 1938 and a reprint of the original text.  I had noticed this book referenced in the bibliographies of several work other works. Those authors referred to Church Symbolism with favorable comments.  Not finding the book readily available online, the reprint was ordered from Amazon.

The Passion Cross - Church Symbolism by F.R. Webber
The Passion Cross – Church Symbolism by F.R. Webber

The book has a wonderful, useful index which makes locating a subject easy.  The information presented is detailed and thorough. This is not just a mere snippet or sound bite on a topic as is the case in more modern texts on the subject of Christian Symbols. The chapter on crosses has little illustrations depicting a vast array of cross examples. The above grouping caught my eye with the words “Passion Cross.” Could this be the cross I had been hunting for?

The description for Passion Cross is as follows:

This is a cross whose ends are cut to points. It is also know as the Cross Urdee, and the Cross Champain, sometimes the Cross Pointed. It represents the sufferings of our Lord, and has been called by some authorities the Cross of Suffering. If pictured as rising out of a chalice, it represents our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. It may be used a symbol of Maundy Thursday, or of Good Friday.

The second book, Symbols and Emblems of Early and Medieval Christian Art by Louisa Twining is available online in some locations.  This is also a great reference book, but not for this particular project.

Now that the Passion Cross decision is made, the next question is a matter of execution.  The options for working the cross are black embroidery floss with gold couching on the Wakefield fabric, or

Ecclesiastical Gold Gallon Trim with Oak Leaf Design
Ecclesiastical Gold Galloon Trim with Oak Leaf Design

a gallon trim used to make the Passion Cross.  There are several considerations before making a final choice for the Passion Cross materials. The first is how the gold galloon looks on the black fabrics. It may be too gold.  The set is somber and should not be the glorious, shiny, celebratory gold of Easter morn. There needs to be a stark contrast between the materials used for both occasions. The other concern deals with the scale of the cross.  Although the cross on the Chalice Veil will be small, the same style of cross may also be used on some large banners.  The gold galloon is limited to a 2″ width, which may not be the correct size scale for use on a large banner.

Of course, there is also option number three: no cross. No one is going to be concerned about the direction of the design on the orphrey and chalice veil fabric except me.

It is time to pull out a few items, and look and contemplate and then sleep on the ideas. Things usually clear up in the morning or after a few days.

Solo Dei Gloria

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