An marvelous example of fine embroidery executed for religious pieces, it has an incredible combination of images and symbolism. It originates from a fine religious collection in France and dates towards 1880.
This is a rare and very fine bourse or sac which would have once held communion wafers or "host" (the pieces left over from the Holy Mass service). The saved host would have locked away in the church tabernacle, to be used by the priest when he visited his sick or dying parishioners.
The needlework is incredible on this small object. The base fabric is silk damask from Lyon (the foremost city for production of fine silk fabric). It is in a beautiful ivory color and the subtle design reflects in the light. Around the edges are fine 1/4" metallic braid trimmings. The large metal and silk thread circle at the bottom holds the symbol Chi-Rho (labarum, Constantine's cross, Christogram, Monogram of Christ) with the symbols of Alpha and Omega. The Chi-Rho emblem is viewed as the first Christian Cross.
A silk embroidered white dove (The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Christian iconography) spreads his wings above the Chi-Rho Monogram. Placed above this are metallic embroidered rays cascading from the "all Seeing Eye of God". The use of the eye emblem to represent God was quite common in the Renaissance; often, the eye would be enclosed within a triangle representing the triune godhead. This type of emblem is often found in Christian art. A very detailed banner filled with an enormous amount of gilt work embroidery reads "O Salvtaris Hostia" (O Host of Salvation). Corner borders of gilt and silk embroidery (in three shades of coral) frame the edges.
The interior has a small pocket and a large pocket. The large pocket is backed with a hardened board (two pieces of silk are glued to the board then embellished) for stability and sturdiness. A silk ribbon closed the smaller pocket. There is a long gilt metal cord which would have served to carry the bourse over the shoulder of the priest. The back is left adorned only by the gorgeous silk brocade and fine metal braid. It measures6 1/4" tall, 4 1/2" wide, the top of the large pocket opens to 1".
It is a rare piece of nineteenth century needlework and religious art. It is in incredible condition for it's age with little wear. The embroidery is in fine condition.
It is one of the most amazing and symbolic pieces of religious needle work that we have found to date. It is truly a sacred object which served a Holy Priest in his duties to aid the sick and dying.
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