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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stations of the Cloth

Ten years ago over my morning coffee at Rao’s in Amherst, I looked up to see my friend Bruce Teague flipping through what appeared to be a Lands End catalog. That seemed a tad out of place for Bruce, who usually dressed with Franciscan abandon. I should mention that Father Bruce was at the time head priest at St. Brigid’s, Amherst’s largest Catholic Church.

At Bruce’s table, much more came to light. The catalog had a four-color Lands End look—but instead sported liturgical vestments—chasubles and copes, stoles, funeral sets, dalmatics, and—of course—albs. These were the good works of the Holy Rood Guild, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trappist monastery, St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. The elegance, craftsmanship, and sticker price of Holy Rood’s offerings (most embellished dalmatics begin at $1K) made one conclusion inescapable—these Trappists have transcended the business purgatory of jellies and jams.

“I know many of the models; that’s Father Timothy; that’s Father Anthony,” confessed Father Teague, while treating me to a tour of the catalog. You too can view it first hand, through the Holy Rood Guild’s inspiring Web site at this link.

I also recommend Brother Emanuel Morinelli’s discussion of the Guild and its business model here.

And for whimsical inspiration, take a look below at the Ecclesiatical Fashion Show—the one saving grace in Federico Fellini’s otherwise tedious movie, Fellini Roma.

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