Thursday, February 22, 2018


In the Gothispanic and Early Mozarabic Rite, Lent begins on the Monday preceding the Roman Rite’s Ash Wednesday.  Tuesday, then, is not a time for carnival (saying goodbye to the meats)  but rather, the Sunday prior.

Our Carnival occurs on the Sunday “In Carnes Tollendas” which translates to “When the Meats are Removed” for indeed, fasting begins the following day: Monday.

With that Monday, then, begin the 40 days of Lent or preparation for the Pascal Mystery.

If you count the days, however, there seem to be 46 days in Lent, not 40 but there is a couple of  technical reasons for this:

1-      The six Sundays of Lent are not counted as fast-days, for they are Feasts of the Lord.  This is signified by keeping the altar visible from the Vespers on the evening of the sixth feria (Saturday) until after the Sunday mass is achieved.  We must remember that the altar remains veiled by curtains on all of the feriae, and no memory, feast or solemnity is celebrated during Lent in this Rite… not even that of Our Lady, for which the 18th of December was invented instead - Her Feast of the Expectation that initiates the octave to Christmas.  For Lent, the altar remains veiled for 40 of the 46 days except during the canon of the mass.
2-     In Holy Week, meaning the feriae after the sixth Sunday of Lent (aka Palm Sunday) includes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.   These four feriae plus the six feriae preceding the six Sundays of Lent are what yield the 40 days of fasting  4+(6x6)=40.
3-     Holy Thursday is included because liturgical days begin the evening prior.  Thence, the Quarta Feria begins on the evening of the Tertia Feria of Holy Week (Wednesday evening). 
4-     The Extraordinary Service of The Institution of the Lord’s Supper which is celebrated as the beginning of The Holy Triduum is thus, technically, after the 40 days have been achieved.   It is performed after the reconciliation of the Penitents and last instruction of catechumens so they may partake in the Pascal Mystery achieved by Easter.
5-     The Triduum in Tenebris is not part of Lent.  The stripping of the altar, the curtains and extinguishing of every last light signifies the darkness (the Tenebrae) which can and will only be resolved with the lighting of the new fire on the beginning of the Resurrection (Easter Vigil which begins on the Sexta Feria which is Holy Saturday).
6-     During the Triduum in Tenebris, no lights are lit in the churches for the sake of ceremonial contrast against the Easter season of light.  For this reason, the liturgical functions such as the exit from the church after the expoliation of the altar on the Fourth Feria (Holy Thursday), Veneration of the Cross on the Fifth Feria and the Gathering of the faithful before the lighting of the new fire on the Sixth Feria (Easter Vigil) occur during the day (usually around 3pm or “hora nona”) so there is no need to light candles and the symbolism is preserved.  The natural sun light is otherwise blocked by window curtains or shutters according to the rubrics.


Feast -0  Sunday In Carnes Tollendas (NOT part of Lent)
First week of Lent, called “In Carnes Tollendas”             6 Feriae
Feast - I Sunday of Lent                                                                    +
            Second week of Lent                                                              6 Feriae
Feast -II Sunday of Lent                                                                   +
Third week of Lent                                                                6 Feriae
Feast -III Sunday of Lent                                                                 +
Fourth week of Lent                                                              6 Feriae
Feast –IIII1 Sunday of Lent                                                             +
Fifth week of Lent                                                                 6 Feriae
Feast -V Sunday of Lent                                                                   +
Sixth week of Lent                                                                 6 Feriae
Feast -VI Sunday of Lent  = Palm Sunday                                    +
Holy Week                                                                              4 Feriae2
                                                                                                40 days of Fasting

The 6 Sundays are not counted, for they are not days of fasting on account of being celebrated as Feasts of the Lord.
Of the 40 days of fasting: 36 are the Feriae in during Lent, plus the 4 days of Holy Week prior to the beginning of the Liturgical Triduum.

1-IIII is used instead of IV in the Gothic Kingdom and the liturgical texts of its tradition in the Hispanic provinces and Gallia Narbonensis.

2-Holy Thursday (the 4th Feria) has its ordinary vespers, matins and mass before the “extraordinary” mass that commemorates the Institution of The Lord’s Supper, Stripping of the Altars, Washing of the Feet and Charity Meal for those who had their feet washed - ceremonies which begin and form part of the Holy Triduum.  It is deemed extraordinary, in part, because of its extensive and particular rubrics compared to all the other days preceding it.

This is part of a couple of books which we are in the process of editing, explaining the rites and rituals of the precursor of what you may know as the Hispano-Mozarabic Rite which is a result of the 16th century Cisnerian reforms.  

Our aim is bringing to light the earlier practices in hopes of enriching the patrimony of the Catholic Church with aspects which have been re-interpreted through modernizing paradigms and interpolations which ultimately has created new forms and forgotten some of the old.  Part of this, a key to decipher Eugenian Chant and later Mozarabic Chant.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

No Sex Capparum For Lent

Here's a somewhat quick design for the celebration of a Solemnity which we call Sex Capparum on account of requiring six cantors vested in copes (cappae in late Latin).

Sex Capparum is the the term used for the triple celebrations in the Gothispanic and early Mozarabic Rite, which is forbidden throughout Lent even if it were the feast of your Patron Saint.   

It entails the decoration of all "three choirs" (the area of the altar, the area of the quire, and the area of the nave) with wall hangings, carpets, flowers, greenery and whatever else is customary.

The triple choir refers also to the the fact that "one choir" means a pair of choristers where one faces north and the other south at the quire of the church.  Alternatively, one simple choir is required for the Memoriae II Capparum (Simple Feasts) and the two pairs required for the Festa IIII Capparum (our Double Feats).

The three pairs of choristers that face each other from the north and south will sing the complex melodies of the celebration of a Solemnia VI Capparum.

These six members of the chapel who vest in copes for the celebration of the Hours and Mass of the greatest feats, are in charge of the melismatic singing peculiar to the Gothispanic and Early Mozarabic Rite,  known as Eugenian or Melodic Chant.

The difference between our Eugenian Chant and  Gregorian Chant (as coined in the  Roman Rite) is the profusion of melesmas or florid adornment during sung vowels.  In Gregorian Chant one sings many syllables on one note, whereas we sing many notes for each syllable.


The image, besides the places of the six Caperos that constitute the triple choir,  shows the relative positions of the Lector, Subdeacon, and Deacon for their respective readings.

The celebrant seats "ante altare" since the curtains to the altar are open from the beginning of vespers which is the start of the Liturgical Day on account of the mass not being a Feria.

This allows the deacon to occupy the principal tribune (aka pulpitum in Latin or chaire in French)  near the altar which is where the celebrant seats when the altar remains veiled on the Feriae until the Sacrificium (which is the equivalent of the roman Offertory).

This is all part of an introductory text on the Gothispanic and Early Mozarabic Rites in the works, whose aim is explaining some of the particular liturgical practices which have not filtered through the Cisnerian reforms of the sixteenth century to become what scholars have reconstructed into the Hispano-Mozarabic Rite.

We already spoke about the importance of architecture in the liturgy designed by Saint Isidore (patron saint of the internet! yes..) and the other bishops of Spain from the 6th thru 11th centuries here.

Along with this, we are preparing another introductory text on Eugenian Chant with a key which we hope will help the music scholars decipher our apparently elusive neumes.

As now it is Lent, all altars remain veiled, no melodic singing, organum or for that reason, choirs vested in copes are allowed.  No Gloria, no Allelujas, no carpets, no flowers, no bema-tribune with icons or statues in medio choro nor days in which the curtains of the altar remain open for longer than the duration of the mass (other than Sundays).  None of this shall be again until the Vigil of Easter - when instead of the Newborn Jesus (of the image here), the Pascal Candle (or sometimes with it the baptismal font) will be center-stage. 

All time of preparation is in faith of a Resurrection if we have faith, is it not?

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More concrete details to follow soon.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Chalice Pall Original

Last December we had the honour to work on a Chalice Pall for Canon Francis Altiere of the Institute of Christ the King in Kansas.  This is a square of linen stiffened with board which is used to cover the chalice while it is at the altar.  This prevents foreign objects (which can range from pieces of plaster from the ceiling to gnats, or even the strong aroma of the incense) mixing with its contents.  As with everything connected with the honour and glory due to God, it is fitting to render it as beautifully as our humble hands and imaginations can manage.  This is the result of our latest efforts:

It was a special piece since we worked on it through the Feast of the Expectation (also called "Maria de la O" because of the "Oh-Antiphons" sung that week) which is the octave preceding Christmas.  It paralleled the labors of the Virgin Mary and by the 25th, as the new-born King was celebrated, so too His name had already been embellished with these pearls on Wisdom in the pall.

Aptly, it reached Canon Altiere in time to be used for the Epiphany. You can see images of the celebration at the Old Saint Patrick's Oratory facebook page.

We would like to share our process towards making our one of a kind pieces when we are commissioned here at Klave Centesca.

We usually have an initial communication to understand the purpose, place, and circumstances for which the work is required.  Sometimes it is the look of a chalice, style of an altarpiece or time period which sparks the imagination.

The image is then translated into a couple of design options.  In this case, we had discussed a sunburst with the IHS in the center, perhaps embellished with some pearls:

From the initial choices, we have a starting point to tweak the design further.  We always aim at creating a one of a kind piece.  

Once digitized, we discussed a few other options and came up with these further variants after settling for the "Romanic" border with pearls.

Then which trim to choose?

And finally after we convene on the final details, the piece is finished. 

The Chalice Pall with Pearl Embroidery in white Linen and Gold commissioned by Canon Francis Altiere, Christmas 2017

Picking and choosing from the different options is always a possibility, as in this case Canon Altiere suggested using the same metal flowers he had seen on a mitre we did a couple of years ago but without the embroidered rosettes:

 As you can see, this is why we always call our pieces a collaboration.  Coming up with something extraordinary is our mission, but greater things always come out when we work together with you.

Be mindful that all the other unrealized designs are still available to commission, all you have to take is the first step and contact us by writing to 

Happy New Year to All! 

May Christ's Light Shine on All.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Instruments of Peace

Today, we will highlight a little liturgical trinket which we call The Instrument of Peace, Portapaz or Oscularium which are as descriptive of a name as those paintings called "Child with a chair" that contain quite rightly: a child and a chair.

Portapaz of Christ-Child ON a Chair... just pure coincidence :)

It is the Instrument of Peace because it is used during the part of the mass in which the Peace is ritually required in order to proceed with the Eucharistic celebration.  That part where you normally turn to you neighbor and shake hands or kiss them as a signal that you do not hold grudges, or if you did, you forgive them so that the Peace of the Lord is manifest and all can proceed to take communion... having "forgiven our debtors" ... (Hint: It's in the 'Our Father'!)

It is often a piece of embossed, carved, bejeweled or embroidered panel which is kissed by the priest and taken round to others to kiss also.  Hence, it is called an oscularium (osculo=kiss in Latin).

The Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela maintains our tradition of kissing an Instrument of the Peace - one of many in the wonderful collections of the Archiepiscopal Treasury.

In the back it has a protuberance in the form of annulus or hook so the cleric who carries it ("the symbolic peace of the Lord") can better handle it without dropping it or faltering in his grip.

There are quite beautiful examples of it, and indeed its use spread at certain points to different rites across Christendom.  It has been used in England, in Italy, France, Germany, and of course, Spain and its places of influence in the New World.

This is the Portapaz of Pope Leo XIII in the Vatican Museums which also hold a treasure-trove of Portapaces:

Its use stems from the particular solution in our GotHispanic Rite, and its Mozarabic branch, to conveying the peace during the Feriae from the celebrating priest at the altar, to our family or our representatives occupying the second-floor tribune at the western or northern end of the nave or transept.   Conveying the peace with a Portapaz via a cleric in his surplice (or further with an esclavina or manteo too if privileged as an Almoner) then allowed for the 'ritual peace' to be taken from the celebrant's lips, and  up the stairs to the tribunes of our particular chapels, without the priest or his ministers needing to exit the sanctuary nor the persons in state descending - which would cause unnecessary distraction to the rest of the faithful for an ordinary day.  In our rubrics it demands that it only be used on the Feriae, and not on the memories, feasts or solemnities, when instead of the tribune we occupy part of the choir. Since time immemorial, however, it has become customary to use it on these other occasions too since it is easier to have the cleric pass in front of the prie-dieus and offer the Portapaz in succession without anyone having to stir much as done for the Communion; everyone else present gives and receives the peace in the customary manner.

As occasions demand, sometimes two instead of one Oscularium is used to carry the peace to those in the Choir: one for those on the North and another for those in the South.  This is especially the case where the the men and women segregate on specially solemn occasions.  Four Portapaces are used thence where nuns occupy one choir or enclosure and monks the opposite one at a monastic basilicas catering to communities of the both sexes, which in essence constitute a double transept or choir so all may do as the Deacon proclaims in a loud voice in our rite: "Quomodo astatis, pacem facite!"   = As is your state/Where you Stand, make peace!

In yet other places it is now taken to a specific spot and people line up to kiss it - which is a new invention.  In the other rites, however, the command to give each other the sign of the peace is not as specific as in ours.  In either case, lining up to kiss it treats the instrument of the Peace as a relic, and though the object is often carved with images, scenes and representation of God, Saints and Holy things, it is not a reliquary nor is the purely-ornamental image to be venerated.  The object is supposed to convey the Peace in a manner that is less disruptive to the liturgy, not to become a distraction.  We hope these things are taken into consideration, though obviously each particular culture and setting should provide for its own norms, and the rest respect them as long as they do not deviate from the central teachings.

In any case, we have it held with the left hand, and wiped with a linen towel held on the right hand. In the Roman Rite, those privileged to use it by papal dispensation from the 16th century on, hold it with a humeral veil instead:

So with all that,  Peace be with You!

As our nuns from San Pelayo sing:

Pacem meam do vobis, pacem meam commendo vobis: 
non sicut mundus dat pacem do vobis.

Novum mandatum do vobis ut diligatis vos invicem. 

Pacem meam do vobis, pacem meam commendo vobis: 
non sicut mundus dat pacem do vobis.

Gloria et honor Patri et Filio, 
et Spiritui Sancto in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Pacem meam do vobis, pacem meam commendo vobis: 
non sicut mundus dat pacem do vobis.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Pontifical Gloves

Pontifical Gauntlets are one of those things we do not see too many of these days... so we are always happy when we have the opportunity to make some.  These pairs are on their way to Hungary.  We couldn't wait any longer to share the story though, since it highlights what we enjoy doing best: learning about history and making new things which can relate to the past so traditions survive at least on our watch.

Pontifical Gloves by Klave Centesca With Embroidered Gauntlet Cuff inspired by Hungarian Coronation Chasuble
The purple ones we hinted at before on social media, and here they are:

The design of the cuff, because they were made for the Hungarian Church, we thought it would be nice to find inspiration in some of their beautiful vestments from the past.  Looking through the various collections, we found this:

Chasuble used at the Coronations of Hungarian Kings 
It is a gold chasuble embroidered with tiny seed pearls using the traditional Hungarian tulips motif.  It even has amethysts and other jewels running down the centre - making it quite literally, a "planeta pretiosa" or precious chasuble which begs the question: where is the matching precious mitre?!

The said chasuble is unlikely to be worn with the pontifical gauntlets we have made at Klave Centesca, but if we had to find inspiration, where best?  Instead of pearl embroidery, we have used the raised goldwork which is more traditional for these liturgical gloves worn at pontifical masses, and we are quite happy with the effect of them.  But with custom work... the possibilities are quite endless.

Here's a couple of different projects from the past:

Pontifical Gauntlets with English Roses, French Fleurs and Canadian Maple Leaves 
Pontifical Gloves with a Jesuit Sun.

And a guide to some of the styles:

Does your bishop have pontifical gloves?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Armorial Amicorum

So... the world takes us all in unexpected adventures.  When we began Klave Centesca it was both as a means of funding our private charity work, and also encouraging the use of embroidered coats of arms on the vestments of the Catholic Church as in olden days... especially in the USA.

First off, most of our commissions came from places outside of the US.  That has been fun and expanded our horizons.  We've come to make things for England, Scotland, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Vatican City, Canada, Australia and even Madagascar!

We've also made more than just things for the Catholic Church.  Through these things we do, we have found great friendships and charity and peace with Anglicans, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists and even the Jewish lady who not only sold us our machines! She has been a great friend thereafter and helped us use hers to finish embroideries when our machines have been away for repairs.  A true Godsend.

If there is one lesson, I'd say that it is good to be open to the possibilities of more than mere transactions, ultimately we see everything we do as collaborations, and the results are always extraordinary because of it.  

Speaking of collaborations, I should like to highlight one with some one who has become a good friend, Captain Jason Burgoin, who yesterday received his grant of arms from the Canadian Heraldic Authority in a private ceremony.

Again, we never thought to be making things outside of the church, but heraldry has been a link into these other interesting areas which we are so glad to have become acquainted with.  The CHA is a wonderful institution commissioned by the Governor General and in the name of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II of Canada (and the UK, etc. etc. etc.) to research and execute these heraldic affairs for Her people of Canada.  It is innovative and refreshing, and active, which is a joy to witness in this day and age.  The Captain, our friend, represents the Royal Heraldic Society of Canada in Toronto.  And I think we have both learned things in our discussions, which are ever so interesting.

One day we spoke of the old Liber Amicorum (or book of friends) so popular in the 16th century and even into the 19th.  In these, friends, would write a blurb, or a poem, draw a picture, artistic representation or simply sign their name for you.  In essence it is a grown-ups version of a school year-book or even of a face book... I mean Facebook.

On the other hand, there was also the tradition of collecting images of the shield designs and achievements of armigerous persons in hand-painted books called Armorials.  For people who have friends with coats of arms, and perhaps enjoy coloring and painting, it is a nice idea to combine the two and somehow the Armorial Amicorum was born.  It is a book where one records the arms of friends, and has them sign or write something special on the page dedicated to them.  It becomes a record of friendships made, grand times, and a good resource for historians hundreds of years from now.

The Armorial Amicorum is also inspired by the old visiting-books one keeps at home so all special guests may leave record of their congress, but in it, not only royalty gets a dedicated page, but rather, each friend receives equal treatment.  For this, the book has to be blank.  It is an album, but its purpose must be marked in some way.  Bookbinding is a fascinating art, and in yesteryear it was not uncommon to combine it with other forms:  metal plates, carved ivory plaques, gemstones, and yes, also embroidered covers:

The 3 sizes on display in front of the heraldic banner of Captain Jason Burgoin of embroidered satin by Klave Centesca.

We've made them in three sizes: The Country Squire is the briefest, which makes it perfect for travel. The Lord of the Manor is the medium sized one which is still practicable for traveling, but large enough to make a nice conversation piece in a room for company.  And the The Great Estates, which is the largest with its pages spanning 11x14 inches and more ideal for a grand foyer or large library.

Maybe it catches on?  Remember you heard about it here first though.  It is definitely something of an heirloom and bound to collect history in its pages (pun intended).

In the age of books with dust-jackets, and Kindle, we thought we should bring back a little of the splendor of years past.  So this is what we made for Jason.
Final proof of frontispiece embroidery before execution.

For this particular design we used the arms of the owner in the centre, as per the blazon at that time authorized by the CHA though not yet officially granted until yesterday.  The shape of it is inspired by the pediment of the Cathedral of Havana, our birth home, and a place Jason has visited and has fond memories of.  It is the closest to a self portrait or a signature that we could approach! Plus, the baroque lines seemed to work well with the representation of the whole. Everything else reflects the Canadian content which the armorial will enclose.  The corners are maple leaves and the borders alternating English roses and French fleurs-de-lis.

First fruits shared of the embroidery.

On the back side, we reinterpreted the personal badge granted him, which is a heraldic tyger of red.

On the inside cover was embroidered a poem:

And on the inside back cover, the Canadian Army Badge.

Absolutely exciting to make and collaborate, and we hope that from its first use upon his official Grant of Arms, and thereafter, many worthy and true friends sign its pages.  Maybe even the Queen!  The world moves in unexpected ways.

What great fun it is!