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The splendid sacred vestments of Congregazionella

In the Church of Servi di Maria in Sorrento there is a splendid collection of vestments going back to the 18th century. All the specimens were made in silk. Some of them were made precious with the use of gold or silver threads and even with precious stones.
Among the many beauties kept in the Church of Servi di Maria in Sorrento (also known as “Congregazionella”, because the seat of the homonymous congregation), there is a splendid collection of sacred vestments, almost all of which going back to the 18th century and largely exposed in the premises of the sacristy.
Many of the specimens are worthy of attention and able to contribute to the knowledge of a real nucleus of masterpieces of textile art and embroidery (represented by the Neapolitan liturgical vestments as of the 18th century), which, elsewhere, are often forgotten if the wardrobes of the sacristies of churches.
The oldest piece of the collection goes back to the end of the 17th century. It is a chasuble in green silk, finished with heavy golden stripes on the back of which there is the stem, embroidered in gold, of Didaco Petra (Archbishop of Sorrento from 1680 to 1699), representing a rampant lion surmounted by an archiepiscopal hat.
Relatively more modern (because going back to the fourth decade of the 18th century) is the red triplet made up of a chasuble, a stole and a cope.
In addition to them, there are also two tunicles as of 1855 of the same making.
All the specimens are made in silk and adorned with the use of silver threads which are lamellar or drawn, used for the representing of wide spirals, of spikes, lilies, roses and daisies.
The chasuble made by Giacomo Savarese and by the embroiderer Gregorio Stasi, instead, goes back to 1746. On it the embroidery is a refined naturalistic drawing, representing thin waving spirals ending in spikes, bunches of grapes, tulips and daisies in a light pink and azure.
The technique used for the flowers is that of the full stitch filling the whole drawing here made on a light padding, while the spikes are in lamellate gold.
Not less superb is a white triplet (made by a chasuble, two tunicles, a stole and a cope) which goes back to the second half of the 18th century and is able to testify tangibly the influence the ceramic flooring exerted on some embroideries of the time and which, in specific, is visible from the chasuble, from the tunicles and from the stole). The whole of the sacred vestments was also made in silk and the embroidery, similar in all its pieces, seems to have drawn from ceramics the bright colours ranging from dark green to yellow, to pink and to azure for the making of relief full-bodied flowers made with full stitch and on a padding of fabric.
Made also with the use of golden threads, azure and garnet red stones, these vestments are made of delicate workmanship and following the Neapolitan tendencies of the time.
Though of a lightly different kind, lastly, also two dresses of Madonna are worth being admired, as of the half of the 18th century. Of these ones, the white dress is embroidered with thin threads twisted in small light pink flowers which join on the skirt and on the sleeves to form small shoots.
Of extraordinary elegance, instead, is the dress embroidered completely with spirals and flowers in drawn gold in relief through the cardboard stuffing on a bottom of lamellate silver. The azure stones, the pearls and the garnets adorning it make it a very rare object. It reveals the characteristic eighteenth-century usage of adorning women’s dresses  with precious stripes interwoven with rich gold and silver yarns, with sequins and precious stones.  

 


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