New England
Lace Group

Mary Processions

September 03, 2012 4:38 PM | Sr. Madeleine Cleverly
Hello again

You have to remember that one reason for lace making was so widows and single women could make a living and it was sisters who in many countries helped these widows find useful and profitable work.... hence much lace that was make was for liturgical use. Now maybe there are lots of other reasons for lace making but this reason will explain the next post. In a church, St Wallaburga ( a Saint I had never heard of ) tucked away again  in a residential academic sector of Brugge, there are at least 12 Marys which were  used in  religious processions over the last 500-600 years in Brugge. It is sort of like a big doll collection framing the side aisles of this beautiful white interior church. The dolls/Marys were called stick dolls as only the head and feet were sculpted. The stick inside was never seen as it  was dressed/covered with  brocades and embroidered fabrics and then of course the trim and the veils were all of handmade lace! I took many pictures of the Marys as each veil was an entirely different lace. I had to have closeups so you all could see the lace and then distance pictures so you could get the effect. I think the guide wondered who I ever was crouching and contorting to get the best angle and avoiding the sun glare from the clerestory windows! Maybe I made his day not too many tourists ventured to this hidden 'place' to  so closely examine the Marys.

Now I saw lace everywhere. In my own little church in the Beguinage there were three altar cloths, one main altar and two side altars. They each had a different Torchon lace trim... just like what Sr Clare is doing for Sacred Hearts! I have to tell her. Anyway I assumed that Sr Mary Anne the lace making sister had done these and I again contorted for pictures and then asked her at dinner. NO... these were done by the Beguines in the 1500s. She casually followed that statement up with 'Oh if you are careful the lace lasts a long time.' Well I would say so 500 years is a long time!

Last post I do hope to do a presentation for NELG with pictures. I think I have given you all at least a sneak preview of what I saw and experienced lace wise. If you have any particular questions feel free to email me or post and I will answer. I definitely am a novice in the lace making world but it was such fun! I loved it!

Sr Madeleine


  • September 03, 2012 5:13 PM | Patty Foley
    Dearest Sr. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing experience - wow! I could smell your bike ride, and maybe some of the aching, could hear the sound of the bobbins clicking and just being away, yet so near in lace. Good for You! We will make time for a presentation - The Mary's seem quite interesting.
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