Chicago Parish’s St. Martha’s Guild Restores Intricate Liturgical Needlework| National Catholic Register

When you walk into the sewing room at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, any number of things might catch your eye.  It might be the antique apparatuses that hold massive, half-finished embroidered altar cloths. It might be an ornate gold cope that could belong in a museum. For a while there was even a headless, footless, handless female figure lying on the table, surrounded with gold-embroidered fuchsia-colored fabric. This room belongs to the parish’s sewing group, St. Martha’s Guild. It’s a group of parish women who mend, create and restore the vestments and altar cloths used in the liturgies. St. John Cantius is a traditional parish with its own order of priests, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, whose charism is “restoring the sacred.” St. Martha’s Guild helps in this mission by “restoring the art of liturgical needlework.” “The things that used to be made for Mass took an enormous amount of effort to make, and all of the people that know all of those skills for goldwork embroidery and fine linen and lace making — all the things that show up at the altar in any kind of way — they’re all 95 years old, and they’re cloistered nuns,” said art director Julie Streeter, who runs the guild. “[When the priest asked me to do it,] he was almost in tears because all of that knowledge, it’s going to go away. He was panic stricken that we’re losing this information.”

Chicago Parish’s St. Martha’s Guild Restores Intricate Liturgical Needlework| National Catholic Register

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