Art: Vestments in the Grand Old Style

IN the past few years, the look of vestments used in Christian ritual has changed. Chief reason is the democratization of the Catholic Church. Vestments once had a hierarchic purpose: the presence of the priest at a raised altar, draped in a chasuble thick with gold and silver embroidery, stiff and heavy as oxhide, glittering in the taper light, symbolized the spiritual distance between God's minister and his people. Costume is a basic way of preserving differences. Moreover, since the priest stood between the faithful and the altar, mostly with his back to...

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