Sunday, September 11, 2005

A felt banner museum?

With Arthur Jones's column, with the impending "de-shaggification" of Old St. Patrick's Oratory in Kansas City, and the the general coming-to-its-senses of Catholicism in some places, I'm thinking of that quip that I heard somewhere but I can't properly attribute (it's much to clever to be mine): "We Catholics don't worship statues anymore. We worship felt banners."

What happens to all those felt banners? Some churches change them four or five times a year. There has to be a place for them somewheres.

I think we need a felt banner museum. Maybe we can find another old mansion in the Hyde Park area of Kansas City or maybe an empty convent somewhere--we'd need five or six thousand square feet, so we could display several dozen original specimens, keep thousands more in storage (for research someday), and generally see to it that progressive American Catholicism holds on to its "material patrimony."

Anybody have space available? If we did it here in Kansas City, this could become sort of the anti-pilgimage for people who don't want a trip to Alabama. While a certain set of Catholics flock the Irondale and to Hanceville to visit EWTN's studios and Mother Angelica's convent, another set can descend upon Kansas City to tour the NC Reporter offices and visit our little felt banner museum.


Todd said...

I can't say I've seen a felt banner in about twenty years. Are people still using them in our neck of the woods? I do have about eight diocesan concelebration vestments my pastor told me to get rid of. Icky polyester things.

Curmudgeon said...

20 years? Surely you exaggerate. I haven't seen many, because the places where I tend to assist at Mass aren't (and weren't really ever) "felt banner" parishes.

But when I go 'a visiting I see them. Most of my visiting is on the Kansas side. St. John the Evangelist in Lawrence must have a nice set. Some of the rural Kansas parishes too. A few of the Johnson County parishes had them about 10 years ago when I was last inside (Holy Spirit, Holy Cross, Holy Name . . . etc., they all run together, kind of like the parishes named after the BVM other on the Missouri side (Our Lady of ...)).

I saw one at a wedding in Belton a few years ago, but I don't have recent first-hand knowledge of suburban Missouri parishes. I take it STM is not using them these days?

How does one get rid of polyester vestments? Given that they are (depite their appearance) sacred objects, one would ordinarily burn them, I assume, but polyester doesn't really burn. Do you just melt them down into a blob and bury them somewhere?

Todd said...

Twenty years is no exaggeration, but the parishes that have hired me tend to be progressive, and trust me: in progressive liturgical circles, felt banners are considered serious faux pas, no matter what the Belton brides bring out.

Personally, I prefer real sacred art: batiks, tapestries, icons if something needs to be portable/seasonal/occasional. Seriously, felt banners hail to the day when Father Pastor was cheap and the liturgy committee practiced BYOF.