It is truly a priceless spiritual treasure to have two chasubles in this Collection from the pontificates of the two most recent pope saints: John XXIII & John Paul II.
The featured image is a Fiddleback (style) chasuble with Maniples. Here is the Curator’s information about it:
One of the things you see often in St. Peter’s sacristy are chasubles that have the emblem of the current pope: his coat of arms, basically. And the item we have here is known as a “fiddle back” chasuble, an older style of chasuble that, though I’m not certain of, was very likely produced for Saint Peter’s Basilica, because all the designs on it focus on John XXIII and his coat arms.
Just as we see his cardinal coat of arms in the thank you card from his elevation to the cardinalate, now we see the papal coat of arms of John XXIII embedded in the chasuble.
This chasuble brings us right back to the great celebration of the Eucharist. We always come back to that with these items, and certainly the priests celebrating in Rome during his time as our Holy Father reminds me of how privileged I have been to have been able to do that. And so many priests prior to us have celebrated Mass in that Basilica. It’s just a great component of our spiritual wealth and the richness of our tradition and our unity in the Eucharist.
So you arrive in the early morning at the Basilica, and as a priest, you can say Mass at one of forty-four altars in the Basilica. You want to see Saint Peter’s when there aren’t hundreds of people there, and so you go in the early morning. That’s when no one is there except for priests saying Mass. It’s a very powerful and prayerful experience to go in the morning. As you walk through the Basilica you hear so many different languages, and you get an experience of the universal nature of the Church. You see people celebrating Mass everywhere, even at the tomb of St. John XXIII.
Maniples are part of the vestments worn by the priest for Mass.
The chasuble is the outermost vestment worn by the priest for Mass. A fiddleback is one style of chasuble.
The Second Chasuble: Worn by Pope John Paul II for the Closing Mass at World Youth Day Denver
This is one of my favorite items, of course, the chasuble that John Paul II wore for World Youth Day Denver. The chasuble came as a gift from our former bishop, Dennis Schnurr, who is now the Archbishop of Cincinnati. He was the head of World Youth Day Denver 1993. Over 500,000 people attended this gathering. And at the end of a very well run program, Pope John Paul gave the chasuble to him as a gift. And when Archbishop Schnurr became the bishop of Duluth, MN, of course, being the big collector that I am, I got very envious, and I probably had to go to confession at that point!
But then he appointed me the Vocation Director, and he said, “Father Kunst, if you get 25 seminarians at one time in the diocese of Duluth, I’ll give it to you.”
And so I worked really hard to accomplish this, obviously for better reasons than the chasuble. But eventually we got 23–close, but not the 25. And then he gave it to me as a gift. And so it’s an incredibly wonderful item (and a wonderful story included below this commentary).
We can see on the front of the chasuble we have the letters of the Virgin Mary–A V., and on the back there is an actual image of his coat of arms. This was used on the feast of the Assumption, August 15, at the closing Mass at World Youth Day.
Pope John Paul II inspired so many in my generation to the priesthood, through his life as a priest and as our Holy Father. And to think I am only one of four people to have worn it: the Holy Father, Archbishop Schnurr, a seminarian for his first Mass and myself.
The Catholic Digest right after the Pope died listed the top 10 events of the pontificate of John Paul II. And they listed World Youth Day in the top 10. So that’s pretty significant –.Father Richard Kunst
Father Kunst was present both at the beatification and also the canonizations of the two Popes.