Liturgical darkness and light

Yesterday the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Piero Marini, the previous papal MC (Marini primo). In 2007 after 2 years as Benedict XVI’s MC, and 18 years before that as Blessed John Paul II’s, Marini primo was moved to a curial position, and in his place a young Genovese monisgnore was appointed, Guido Marini (Marini secundo).

Marini primo was apt to dress Benedict XVI like this:


Whereas Marini secundo was apt to dress the pontiff like this:

APTOPIX Vatican Cardinals

‘Nuff said….

Needless to say, this audience Pope Francis granted to Marini primo yesterday has set liturgical teeth on edge. Given Pope Francis’ rather Jesuit, graceless approach to matters liturgical, is Marini secundo about to be removed and his predecessor restored? Marini primo is not a bad man to the best of my knowledge, but his taste leaves a lot to be desired. Moreover, his appointment might be counterproductive in light of Pope Francis’ agenda for simplicity and poverty. Marini primo was fond of spending money to make innovative liturgical fashion statements; Marini secundo was happy to look first to the papal sacristy and see what was already in stock. Anyway, time will tell…

There are many around who resent money being spent on the liturgy, with the inevitable refrain that it would be better spent on the poor. Apart from being a simplistic argument, and one that is not easily reconcilable with our Lord’s own words (Matt 26:6-13 comes to mind), it is often found to be contingent on the way it is being spent. If for modern vestments or architecture, then it can be praised as modern, part of adapting Christianity to the contemporary society and taste &c, and any objections quickly forestalled; but if for traditional-style vestments, buildings or fitments, then it becomes costly indulgence in nostalgia, “dressing up” &c. Monasteries are not immune from it. It is a mindset wholly alien to a true Christian spirit, and one certainly incomprehensible to eastern Christians, not least those who live in much poorer countries than ours. They tend to sacrifice much for the sake of their liturgies.

So when one finds an ecclesiastical craftsman who fosters intelligent liturgical tradition without stooping to nostalgia or kitsch, he (or she) is to be encouraged in every way possible. One such can be found at the Australian St Bede Studio. This is not mass produced material, but hand-crafted beauty. During the papal visit for Sydney’s World Youth Day in 2008 (where has the time gone?) Michael at the Studio was commissioned to make vestments for Pope Benedict’s visit, and this was the stunning result:


It is a traditional vestment which does not slavishly ape any one period. It is a full cut chasuble of unostentatious beauty. Its use of the tau cross I find particularly attractive. The Studio makes vestments of many styles, always with an eye to beauty, good taste and quality. If I had the money I would stock our meagre sacristy with Michael’s work without a second’s hesitation!

Yes, Michael also has a blog which is very informative. Rather than being a mere vehicle to advertise his work, it offers restrained analysis and background on styles of vestments and the ways in which they employed. Recently he has been looking briefly at Pope Francis’ liturgical style. It is a blog you should visit if you value the liturgy and its worthy celebration. You will discover that Michael is a true and serious student of liturgy. Go there now! The Saint Bede Studio Blog

20 thoughts on “Liturgical darkness and light

  1. When I saw this news on another blog, I wondered whether the meeting had anything to do with Archbishop Marini’s current post as president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses – maybe (or hopefully) the pontiff wanted to meet Marini primo simply to discuss the state of planning for World Youth Day or some other international event that could be in the offing.


    1. Well, that did cross my mind but I am not aware of any urgent need that the PCIEC might have to see the pontiff so soon. Is WYD actually a responsibility of PCIEC? If so, you are probably right, If not…. mmmm.



      1. I don’t know whether WYD falls under PCIEC or not – I did a cursory Internet search to try to find out, but couldn’t get an answer. In any event, I could imagine that the pontiff could want to see Archbishop Marini for reasons other than giving him his old job back. Who knows, maybe the pope has another curial position in mind for him, different from the one he had before or has now? (No, I am not saying that Piero Marini could become secretary of state; I’m simply suggesting that there could be any number of other positions that he is capable of filling.)

        In any case, I do want to see Marini secundo stay in his current role for years to come. I rather doubt that Marini primo would return to his former office – one doesn’t often see retreads in that position, and he’s also getting old – but at the same time, if the pope wanted a new MC, perhaps he would seek Piero’s advice about possible candidates.


      2. Given that he has barely seen anyone so far in his short pontificate, it is notable that Marini, in a relatively junior position, has had a personal audience already with Francis. Retreads can come to pass if the term envisaged is not too long. Maybe Marini primo would be a temporary guy till Francis finds the man he wants. Or, as you say, maybe he wants his advice. But given the Secretary of State position should surely have overwhelming priority, it is just plan confusing!

        Like you, I am hoping Marini secundo stays on to lick this pope into liturgical shape. 😉



  2. Well I can’t see him in any other discastery apart from CDW? He’s got no experience in State for example.

    It’s also telling that Archbishop Marini was seen before Card. Llovera. Sandro Magister reported just a few days ago that +Llovera was one of the discastery heads who were not completely honest with B16 and tried to cover up the approval of the Neo-Cat liturgy. Whatever his thoughts are on the liturgy, Pope Francis is unlikely to have viewed that action favourably.


      1. Haha – this is definitely one time I hope I am NOT proven right. I’m just fearing the worst as usual!

        Speaking of – it would be nice to share food and drink one day hopefully?


  3. Also – just seeing that first picture of B16 I am reminded again of how very humble he was.

    I can’t imagine very many priests would wear that if that were put out for them without asking for something else first, or at least saying, like Pope Francis with the mozetta, that he’d rather not.

    Thankfully the real carnival (for now) is over!


    1. Amen! Long may we be spared the return of that carn-evil.

      Benedict indeed was (is) a humble man, more so than me. I have had to wear the occasional shocker for Mass, but I could not have coped with with the chasuble in the first picture. My pride would have prevented me. But Benedict wore what he was told.

      Strange thing about humility of the truest sort – we do not recognise it till long after we have seen it. True humility escapes the notice of the masses.


  4. I especially agree with the comment on humility. Recent events have had a positive impact in that a lot more people are considering what constitutes genuine humility; and there seems to be a recognition that humility takes different forms. As it is an internal disposition, it is possible for both Francis and Benedict to be humble, yet for their approach to be different.

    Having said that, I’m praying that Francis will keep that other humble man, Marini number two, in place!


    1. Hi Neil. Thanks for your comment. I have said before that what shows that Pope Francis is not playing to the cameras is that he is acting consistently with his practice as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Thus Francis seems to be a man of principle who plans to remain so.

      And to pray for the continued ministry at the papal elbow of Marini secundo is a worthy activity: his sort do not grow on trees and his work has been wonderful. And it is a tough job.



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