Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pentecost Green! No, Red. No, Green! :)

Ever since Easter began, we've been busy making vestments in red.  That is the colour for Pentecost in the Roman Rite which practically everyone follows today in the West.

 The reasoning for the red is well documented in every liturgical book printed since at least the 1500s ... and even Wikipedia.  The green, however, is less obvious when one directly associates the holy ghost with red masses.

Green's use  is explained with the descent of the Holy Spirit beginning the period in which bishops went out and evangelized the peoples... in other words, the beginning of Ordinary Time in the Liturgical Year.  Hence follows, that the colour of bishops is green and why the galero on their coats of arms, seat covers and cushions are also by default green.   [Eventually, western-rite bishops began to wear purple (and the rochet, for example) as part of the now well-established privilege of being members of the Roman Pontiff's household.  Monsignori, who may or may not be bishops, thus, also wear purple by the privilege which affiliates them to the Papal household.]  Green represented the time when to carry out the pastoral visits by the bishops - when the fields themselves were green with life.  Green "cassocks" and "hoods" went out of history long ago for bishops, but the vestments and some paraphernalia remained.

Now that some context has been established, here is a rather magnificent set of paraments, presently at The Louvre, which were commissioned for  L'Ordre du Saint Esprit in the 16th century - whose major feast day was: Pentecost!  As you may appreciate, it is green, and replete with the flames associated with the descent of the holy ghost.

On this image one can see the Throne dais whose baldachin has the dove in the centre and the prie-dieu cover bears the royal arms embroidered in the front.  On the rear, the altar frontal, dossal and baldachin can also be seen.  The ceremonial robes of the Knights and Officers of the order also bear a small cape to match, in green, above the long black mantle.
Next, is an image of these pieces in use, during the King's reception of the oath from a new member: The bird which is in reality embroidered on the ceiling of the king's baldachin, is represented as hovering over the sovereign's head in the painting:

L'Ordre du Saint Esprit was established in 1578 by King Henry III in commemoration of having been elected King of Poland, and then inheriting the throne of France, coinciding with the feasts of Pentecost of 1573 and 1574 respectively.
Here can be appreciated the detail of the flames of the green camail (above) and of the overall effect of altar frontal (below) which also bears the King's heraldic achievement of a royal crown over the arms of France, and of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth.  They are circled by the collars of L'Ordre du Saint Michel, and the new Ordre du Saint Esprit.

So there you have it.  Green Vestments and Paraments used at the Royal Court of France for the Feast of Pentecost according to the Parisian Use of the Gallican Rite.  The Gothispanic (aka Mozarabic) Rite also uses green for this feast in the west.

The Eastern rites too, use green:  
Some, still deck the halls with green branches, flowers and trees:
And others go still further and "carpet" their churches with greenery as was attested by the Muslim chronicler, Almakkari, when referring to the Gothispanic mass already in the IX century.

Below, that practice still seen in Romania:

Interesting, yes?

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