Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Monday, 12 December 2016

Saint Margaret Clitherow: "The Pearl of York". She Died For The Faith. And The Faith Is The Mass. And The Mass Needs The Priest. And The Priest Needs His Vestments.

Illustration: MANIPLES MATTER !!!

The following Article and Illustrations are taken from

By this title (Maniple), I do not mean The Roman Republic Army formation, which came into common practice during The Second Samnite War in 315 B.C. (though its importance cannot be underestimated). Rather, I mean those little bits of cloth that some Priests wear over their Left-Arm when Celebrating Mass.

The history of the Maniple is quite interesting. It is common in the Liturgy of The West from about the 6th-Century A.D., onwards, and probably came about much earlier than this from the practical need of the Priest to wipe his face and hands when Celebrating Holy Mass.

This may sound a little strange to us in the frozen North, but, around The Mediterranean in the height of Summer, with no air-conditioning, a Priest would have been glad of a small piece of cloth to mop his brow – his body being encased in binding Vestments for the offering of The Divine Sacrifice.

So, by the 6th-Century A.D., the Maniple had become a Liturgical garment corresponding to the colour of the other Vestments. Although in shape and style it developed at various times in various ways, it retained its place on The Left-Arm, and always with something of its original meaning.

A translation of the Prayer, which the Priest says when he puts on the Maniple, is: “May I deserve, O Lord, to bear the Maniple of weeping and sorrow, in order that I may joyfully receive the reward of my work.”

With weeping, comes the need to wipe the face, and balance of sorrow and happiness typifies the Priest's offering of his life in sacrifice and joy.

Pope Paul VI,
famous simplifier of Vestments.

The Maniple was an obligatory part of The Mass Vestments until 1967. In that year, The Sacred Congregation of Rites issued the Decree Tres Abhinc Annos, which stated: “The Maniple is no longer required.”

So, Priests threw them away. Or, sent them to The Missions. Or, used them for goodness knows what. They even said that it was wrong to wear the Maniple as it was no longer "required". Well, we know that that is not true: Just because something is not required, does not mean that it is forbidden. It seems to me monstrous and wicked that Sets of Vestments were ravaged and torn asunder by the destruction of the Maniple.

Saint Margaret Clitherow.

So why am I banging on about this ? Well, as I am writing this, I have just celebrated the New Rite Feast of Saints Margaret Ward, Anne Line and Margaret Clitherow. Saint Margaret Clitherow was a Convert, whose brother was a Priest, and who sent her son abroad to be educated in Catholicism.

She harboured Priests and provided a place for Mass to be Said. She cried out against the new religion and refused to go along to the State-sponsored Services, and, as a result, was imprisoned. Her third child, William, was born when she was locked up in gaol.

When, in March 1586, her house was searched, the Queen’s Officers found Mass Vestments, and the possession of these was enough to have her Pressed to Death in the most foul and cruel way.

Cardinal* Burke wearing a Maniple on his Left-Arm.
(Title of Cardinal correct at time of writing. 
As many know,
Cardinal Burke has asked a question, and so might be punished).

Let me reiterate, she died because they found Vestments in her house. I can imagine this Holy Saint looking down from Heaven and crying out: “I died for that cloth, which you so easily put aside and destroy”, as modern Priests scorn the Maniple and other Holy Garments.

Though I am sure that it was not just for the possession of a Maniple, alone, that Saint Margaret Clitherow was humiliated and tortured at the age of thirty-three, leaving three children motherless, yet I am convinced that a Maniple would have been there among the Vestments which were mocked by "lewd men" at her so-called trial.

She died for The Faith, and The Faith is The Mass, and The Mass needs the Priest, and the Priest needs his Vestments.

Naughty Maniple.

And, in 1967, at a stroke, “the Maniple is no longer required”, and the Priest stopped saying: “May I deserve, O Lord, to bear the Maniple of weeping and sorrow, in order that I may joyfully receive the reward of my work.”

I will be your Knight and fight for your honour.

I firmly believe in the Maniple. It would be a great thing if Priests would take up again this Holy Garment in Celebrations of both Forms of Holy Mass, just as a Knight of Old would take up the token of his lady before going into battle.

Saint Margaret Clitherow, "The Pearl of York", could be our mistress and defender in Heaven, and her handkerchief, our Maniple, will be that very token.

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