Posta has decided to issue three stamp series, extending over the next three years, dedicated to church textiles used in the Church of the Faroe Islands. These issues will be covering the liturgical colours as well as presenting the craftmanship of the textiles while observing a fairly even geographical distribution of churches in the Faroes.
The first two stamps will be issued on September 23, 2019, featuring respectively a red chasuble from the church in Sandvík in Suðuroy (consecrated in 1908) and a green chasuble from the church of Funning in Eysturoy (consecrated in 1847).
The red chasuble is made of velvet, decorated with vestment trims and a cross design on the back.
The green chasuble is made of Norwegian wool and cotton. It is hand-woven and inspired by the hymn ”Eg skar mítt navn í grein ta hvítu” (I inscribed my name on the white branch) by Jóannes Patursson in 1901. The chasuble is a gift from the family of Knút Højsted. It was presented to the church in 1990. Karin Brattaberg has designed and produced the chasuble and the associated stole.
After the Reformation, the Lutheran church continued using chasubles, which originally were an old Catholic custom. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the form and styles of the chasubles were greatly debated. There were substantial differences in designs and sizes, and the same is true today. When a church receives a new chasuble, a decision must be taken on whether it is intended to fit more than one of its ordained ministers or only the currently serving minister.
The chasubles are used for the Eucharist and if baptism is to be performed on the same day, many ministers also wear the chasuble during the baptism. Otherwise, the use of the chasuble differs somewhat, but in churches using chasubles in the four liturgical colours, many ministers wear the chasuble during the first part of the service before the sermon, and take it off when they enter the pulpit. Other ministers keep the chasuble on throughout the service.
The Colours of the Liturgic Year
Chasubles and stoles adhere to the colours associated with the holy days of the Church Year, the so-called liturgical colours. However, several churches do not have ecclesiastical vestments in all these colours.
The liturgical colours are white, red, violet, green and black. These are the specific hues used for vestments within the context of Christian liturgy and associated with the ecclesiastical festivals and holy days. The colours signify the following conditions:
· The white colour signifies purity, joy, holiness and innocence. It is the church's celebratory colour. The white colour is used on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Sunday between Christmas and the New Year, New Year's Day, Sunday after the New Year, the Epiphany, the 6th Sunday after the Epiphany, the Annunciation, Maundy Thursday, Easter Day and the second in Easter, the 1st-6th Sundays after Easter, the Ascension of Christ, Trinity Sunday, All Saint’s Day and the 27th Sunday after Trinity Sunday.
· The red colour signifies fire, blood and love and is the colour of the Holy Ghost. The red colour is used on the second day of Christmas, the Day of Pentecost and the second Day of Pentecost.
· The violet colour signifies repentance and conversion, thoughtfulness and fasting. It is used during the 1st- 4th Sunday in Advent, Septuagesima, Sexagesima, during Lent, on Shrovetide Sunday, during 1st-3rd Sunday in Lent and Mid-Lent as well as on Palm Sunday and General Prayer Day.
· The green colour signifies growth and vitality, maturity and hope. The green colour is used for the most of the liturgical year, during Epiphany, 1st-5th Sunday after Epiphany, Trinity Sunday and 1st-26th Sunday after Trinity.
· The black colour signifies grief and death and is only used on Good Friday.
Since 1982, Paulina M. K. Eliasen has been registering all liturgical vestments and textiles used in the Faroese churches, prayer houses and schools used for church attendance. Looking at the registration, we can readily see that well-nigh all churches in the Faroes, just as churches in Denmark, have used the red chasuble of velvet with a golden cross on the back and with one or two vestment trims around the edges. The oldest chasubles in these churches date back to the 1890s and from approx. 1900 and beyond. Some are still in use and in some churches the age of these vestments is unknown. The Danish Parament Trade, founded in 1895, has made chasubles for the Faroese churches.
These records do not indicate any changes until in the latter half of the 20th century. Christian’s Church in Klaksvík, which was consecrated in 1963, got a green chasuble of brocade fabric in the 1970s, made by the Danish Parament Trade. The West Church in Tórshavn, which was consecrated in 1975, received chasubles in all the liturgical colours of the Church Year. The green and the red chasubles are made in Denmark, and the white and violet in England.
In recent years, many chasubles have been designed and made in the Faroe Islands. They vary greatly in terms of design, fabric and sewing. However, many chasubles are still bought from abroad, especially from Belgium and Denmark. Judging by the material it appears that, in general, church textiles are undergoing changes, both in terms of colours and design. Many churches today have more than one chasuble, while most churches have several altar cloths. Several churches also have chasubles in all the liturgical colours for use during the Church Year. However, this varies greatly from one church to the next. Some churches have not received new church textiles during this period, while others have received several new textiles. One church has for instance got three new altar cloths. Some churches had only one altar cloth and still have only this one altar cloth. There are many different artistic viewpoints on how to prioritize church textiles – whether they should be purchased from abroad or from artists in the Faroe Islands. Vestments and chasubles that are mostly bought from abroad, while Faroese women have in most cases been making the altar cloths, and the same is true of the carpets, which in many cases are woven in the Faroe Islands.
Source: "Kirkjuklæði" (Church Vestments), a book by Paulina M. K. Eliasen, is expected to be published later this year.