Vilnius, late 17th c.
Church of Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles in Vilnius.
17th c. Golden floral Baroque
In the 17th century, the theme of the suffering of Christ in church art gave way to the idea of praising the glory of God with grandeur and sensuality, glitter of gold and richness of details. However, the greatest change in the decoration of liturgical vestments was the so far unprecedented dominance of floral ornaments. Liturgical vestments turned into magnificent flower gardens almost devoid of religious symbols.
Liturgical textiles for altar and church decoration
Sets of liturgical vestments were often supplemented by sumptuous textile implements of the altar. The veil and burse are coverings that conceal the chalice of the Holy Mass at certain moments in the liturgy. Antependia decorating the frontal part of the mensa were made from expensive materials: silk, brocade and velvet, and were embroidered with gold and silver threads and decorated with appliqué and painting.
Embroidery with metal and silk threads
Details embroidered with metal threads are appliquéd on red velvet. High rather coarse relief, painted faces and hands show that these embroideries date to the second half of the 17th century. The surrounds of the antependium come from an earlier period: the ornament with a pomegranate motif is embroidered with fine silver and gilded silver threads on blue silk.
Images of saints, symbols of faith, floral ornaments
The monogram of the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a sunburst, a figure of the Mother of God, and a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit are in the centre of the antependium. A pomegranate fruit depicted on the surrounds became a symbol of the unity of the Church because of its multiple seeds, and a symbol of Christ’s blood because of the red colour of its juice.