Religious art in Austria – new colorful stamp issue was released

July 6th, 2015 is glad to inform that Austrian Post has released a special stamp from the series “Religious Art in Austria”. The item depicts the chalice veil of the “Whit regalia” from the paramenta collection of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in St Pölten . The item was issued and put into circulation on the 19th of June.

A chalice veil is a cloth, often finely ornamented, that in the Roman Catholic Mass and the Lutheran Eucharist covers the chalice for the consecrated hosts or the wine. The chalice veil presented here is part of a whole series of liturgical textiles known together as the "Whit regalia" or the "Maria Theresia regalia". These include ante- pendia, i.e. curtains for below the altar, stoles and copes (liturgical vestments). These magnificent textiles made of velvet are decorated with gold, silver and petit-point embroidery, and are lined with taffeta.

The "Whit regalia", made in the 1740s, is also known as the "Maria Theresia regalia" because it is assumed that Empress Maria Theresia gave it to the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in St Pölten (today the Congregation of Jesus). In her youth, Maria Theresia was a very close friend of Maria Katharina von Saint Julien, who was her lady-in-waiting while she was still archduchess. The countess later joined the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in St Pölten, ultimately becoming its Provost.

It is assumed, and also stated as such in an anniversary volume of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that Maria Theresia gave the Institute this valuable gift either on the occasion of the admission or the advancement of her friend Maria Katharina von Saint Julien. However, there is no documentary evidence that could prove that this was the case.

The chalice veil of the "Whit regalia" is made of silver brocade, is of symmetrical design and richly decorated with gold. Eight coloured silk flowers are connected by a broad golden ribbon: red roses decorate the centres of the sides, lilac carnations the corners. In the middle, there is the text IHS in gold. The valuable embroideries are in flat-pass stitch, and it is assumed that they were made by Empress Elisabeth Christine, Maria Theresia's mother.

This was in any event the state of knowledge when the chalice veil was displayed in Vienna on the occasion of a Maria Theresia paramenta exhibition in 1904. What is certain is that the chalice velum was embroi- dered with a maximum of precision and fine work and that considerable thought was given to the composition of the motif.

Today, the "Whit regalia", the name relating its red colour to the high festival day in the church year, can be seen in the St Pölten Diocesan Museum, where it is on display as a loan from the Congregation of Jesus.

Tags: #Austria