Liturgical needlework depicting religious images and scenes was popular during medieval times. The very fine English needleworks, meant to reflect the holiness and beauty of God, was known as "Opus Anglicanum."
When the priest then stood " Ad Orient-am" in celebrating Mass, the back of the chasuble served as a type of icon.
English needlework, was renowned for its excellence. However it went into decline (1100 - 1348) due to a number of factors, including wars, economic recession and the plague or "Black death" which took over 1/4 of England's population, including two- thirds of the clergy.
I thought about the little church I now attend, and it only being open for Mass four days out of seven; it never has a lectern hanging, and the altar cloth is reduced to that which just covers the top surface. But it is no different to my last parish; It seems as though the altars truly have been "stripped bare" in the last thirty years or more.
However, I keep encountering evidence of a sea change in that mode of thought. Its not that people are so much looking back at the medieval past and trying to re-create it; but they look back and recognise how much we have lost in terms of skill and artistry.
To the younger generation, modernism is old hat. They are re-discovering the splendour which was the Catholic church and have a desire to learn the old skills that created it. People are now hungry to restore a sense of beauty after years of visual austerity. Its ripe ground for a renaissance in the liturgical arts.
Lewis and Lewis
is a Catholic family run business: specialising in statue restoration, and church interior projects.
Jeanette is a professional sculptor/fine artist and designer; husband David is a traditional upholsterer/technician.
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