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Liturgical Vestments

The erstwhile home of prebend-historian Istvan Katona became the home of the Treasury of the Archbishopric at Kalocsa in 2002. The Treasury’s permanent exhibit introduces the Religious Art relics of the historic Kalocsa Archbishopric, and at the same time, it gives a glimpse into the 1000-year history of the Archdiocese. The artifact anthologies are chronologically displayed in five rooms.

Liturgical vestments, Treasury of the Archbishopric, Kalocsa, Hungary
Room 5: Liturgical Vestments

In the first few centuries, the priests didn’t wear liturgical vestments. Starting from the era of the Great Migrations, there was a gradual development of liturgical wear, from a choice of classical, antique pieces of clothing. Thus, the alb and the surplice developed from the shorter and longer undergarment, the tunic; the bell-shaped wide travel overcoat turned into the chasuble; the hooded raincoat became the cope; and the tunic’s more sophisticated, outer garment version grew to be the dalmatic. The stole’s origin can be traced to the face cloth.

Starting from the 8th century, these pieces of clothing took on a strictly liturgical nature, and they expressed the various degrees of priesthood, and differentiated the orders. The priestly garments were made of increasingly more expensive and more elaborate fabrics, and they gave a uniform look to those performing a ceremony. These were the liturgical vestments (Latin: ornatus). The chalice veil, the chalice’s “garment” was also part of the liturgical dress and was made of the same material and color as the vestments. For bishops, the liturgical vestment includes the mitre and the small, round, yarmulke-like skullcap, the pileolus or zucchetto. On weekdays, they wore a violet cassock, and on special occasions a cope with a long train, called cappa magna, the hood of which had ermine lining in the winter.

The Treasury of the Archbishopric has a rich collection of liturgical vestments. In room 5 we can see a small sampler of these. The oldest piece of the collection was brought by archbishop György Császka, from the Uplands (Felföld), where he was bishop of Szepes (Spiš in today’s Slovakia). The embossed Gothic crucifix from the 15th century has very typical figures. In the 16th century, the embroidered cross was moved to a red cloth background.

15th century chasuble, liturgical vestments, Treasury of the Archbishopric, Kalocsa, Hungary

Also of 16th century origin is the chasuble made of Florence textile
in the neighboring display. Right next to it we can see a set of vestments with highly elaborate embroidery work. These belonged to archbishop József Batthyány, and were made in Vienna, in 1764, by an Austrian monk called Wilhelm Jacob Seberth. The articles of a delicate workmanship recall the scripture readings for Candlemas, Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. The next vestment is a gift from Queen Maria Theresa: at the bottom, we can clearly see the Queen’s monogram. A few items of the white pontificals of Ádám Patachich follow. The whole set consists of far more pieces heavily decorated with interwoven gilded silver threads and gold sequin.

On the back wall of the middle showcase we can see the so-called All Saints Cope, made in Lyon, France, which won a prize at the Paris World Fair. It was made with a special weaving technique: the figures of the saints are not embroidered on it afterwards but are woven in the actual textile, and in the halos, we can read the name of each saint. The purple silk interwoven with gold thread is rather heavy. It weighs over 10 kilos (over 22 pounds).

Next to the cope we can see a few pieces of archbishop Lajos Haynald’s red, Pentecostal vestment, embroidered with gilded silver thread. The garment on its right, in the back of the showcase is a real specialty: a silver sequined cope made from the long train of an aristocrat wedding gown from the beginning of the 19th century. At the bottom of the cabinet there are silk archiepiscopal footwear on display, and the exhibit is complete with an ermine-lined cappa magna used by the celebrant prebends on special occasions in the cathedral.

Address: Kalocsai Érseki Kincstár
  • Permanent exhibit: 6300 Kalocsa, Hunyadi u. 2. (Katona István ház)
  • Office: 6300 Kalocsa, Szentháromság tér 1. (Érseki Palota)
  • All year round.
  • Between April 1 and October 31, from 9.00 to 17.00.
  • The rest of the year please call in and set up an appointment.
  • CLOSED on Monday.
  • 36-78/462-641 (during open hours)
  • 36-78/462-166 (in the winter)
Fax: 36-78/462-166, ext. 130

Images and information courtesy of the Archiepiscopal Treasury, Kalocsa
Translation: Iren Bencze