Object of the week: St Omers Lamb Chasuble

POST BY JGraffius

St Omers Lamb Chasuble Mid-17th century, restored 1827
St Omers Lamb Chasuble Mid-17th century, restored 1827

We begin a series of blog posts from Stonyhurst College.  Each week we highlight a different object from their extensive collection of relics and artefacts which represent the oldest museum in the English speaking world.  Since 1609 thousands of ancient, precious and sacred objects have been entrusted to the Jesuits and the College, reflecting its unique role as a sanctuary for world culture spanning millennia.

This object for this week has been chosen to celebrate the Feast Day of St Agnes on Saturday 21st January.

This chasuble, like St Agnes, takes its name from the Lamb, agnus in Latin. Here is shown the Lamb of God lying slain on an altar, worked in silver and gold in the centre of the cross, as referred to in the Book of Revelation, with seven seals hanging down beneath it.

The chasuble was brought to Stonyhurst when the college fled there from Liege during the Napoleonic Wars, though is believed to have originally come from St Omers. It was restored on the order of the Rector, Fr Norris, by Br Houghton in 1827; the first vestment he undertook as Sacristan:

[He] ordred me to restor it but not to change aney thing of the original so I had to set to whork with the little knowledge I had no experience […] The embroydrey of this vestment is much to be admired so full of whork and still so lite in hits apirence […] every leafe and turn in the embroyderey have so much life in it that it is delightfull to look an see the fine scrowl at each side of the cross.

The distinctive scrollwork on the chasuble dates it certainly within the 17th century, and bears a remarkable resemblance in form to that on the Wintour Alleluia chasuble at Stonyhurst, (property of the Jesuits in Britain) which is dated 1655.  The execution of the flowers is much like the Flemish floral still-life paintings of Breughel and Seghers, indicating that the vestment may have been produced in or near to Flanders, around the middle of the century.