Chasuble (one of a set of five vestments)

Date: 18th century

Culture: Italian, probably Sicily

Medium: Silk, metallic thread

Dimensions: W. 29 in. (73.7 cm); L. of shoulder to hem 43 3/4 in. (111.1 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Embroidered

Credit Line: Gift of Catherine M. Randazzo Guirreri and John J. Randazzo, in memory of the Saverio Randazzo Family, 1984

Accession Number: 1984.462.1


According to tradition and testimony, this chasuble—together with its matching stole, maniple, chalice cover, chalice veil, and burse—was made in Sicily, as a gift from his bishop for Nicolo Spedaliere (also recorded as Spitaleri), head priest of the mother church of Partanna. It is entirely feasible that the vestments were made by a women's religious order or at a school that practiced this type of embroidery. The nearly symmetrical pattern of full-blown, seminaturalistic flowers, small blossoms, curving leaves, and scrolls is characteristic of the late Baroque ornament that appears on some Sicilian and Italian vestments from the late seventeenth to the mid-eighteenth century. Similarly typical is the combination of painterly polychrome silk embroidery, worked in long and short stitches and French knots, with metal thread couched in a variety of patterns. Although the chasuble maintains its traditional surface division into central orphrey and side panels, which previously may have been of different materials, there is no structural reason to do so, as the entire decoration is embroidered and the pattern flows over these boundaries.