Purple Paraments

Walking our pilgrim of Lent this year, we have some new art to adorn our liturgy and worship spaces this year. This professionally handcrafted artwork is a completely new set of purple paraments for the chancel and for our clergy to wear.

This beautiful purple set was commissioned by our parish and designed and crafted by Grace Vestments of Brooklyn, New York, which also designed and made our new Advent Sarum blue set.

The complete set includes pulpit and lectern scarves (falls) for the Nave, a complete set of stoles for the priests and deacon, a burse and veil (the little “tent” on the altar for the patent and chalice), a magnificent chasuble for the Celebrant to wear and another fall for the ambo in the Chapel.

The symbolism found in these vestments is vast and rich. Either purple or unbleached muslin paraments and vestments may be used during Lent. In this parish, we use purple to emphasize the royalty of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. These new vestments begin with a grand coronation tapestry purple background.

Grace Vestments then used scarlet velvet to accent the purple tapestry. Scarlet is the deep wine-red color used for Holy Week, symbolic of the blood Jesus shed on Good Friday. These scarlet accents foreshadow for us the events of Holy Week.

Tying the two colors together are two different patterns of orphrey banding in gold and black, which are beautiful in themselves. Orphreys begin as simple materials and are constructed into intricate, elaborate patterns and designs.

The chasuble and its construction and symbolism are of great significance. The back of the chasuble is an orphrey banding in the shape of a Latin cross marked with five small scarlet velvet squares, noting the five wounds of Christ’s body. And the chasuble is lined in black, a reminder of our sin and mortality. This garment is finished with trim in the same scarlet velvet. On Sunday, be sure to notice this vestment worn by the Celebrant.

These magnificent vestments were made possible by The Memorials Fund of our parish. The chasuble contains a sewn memorial plaque on the underside that reads, “To the Greater Glory of God and in Thanksgiving for All Those Who Have Looked to God in Hope, Church of the Holy Communion, Memphis, Ash Wednesday 2017.” Indeed, they were used for the first time on Ash Wednesday this past week.


The Episcopal Church national website has a thorough glossary of church terminology with explanations of many of the terms used above:


Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at 15:04