Guest blogger Mantilla Amontillado is the founder of Veritas Vestments. She holds a degree in Ecclesiastical Haberdashery from Salamanca University. She has done the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella three times on horseback and is engaged to the famous matador, Senor Augusto Toroquilla
OK Hon, Listen. I’m really busy trying to set up my new business. It’s called Veritas Vestments because you have heard of the term ‘fashion statement’? Well, that’s right. What you wear is what you say, and my vestments are going to speak the truth you know?
Somebody say, “Actions speak louder than words.” Mantilla says, “Clothes speak louder than words.” and talk about loud clothes, phew! Madre de Dio, have you see those vestments that the lady bishops are wearing in the Protestant churches? Sometime Father Longenecker sends me links and pictures and says, “Hey Mantilla what do you think?” He does this because he like to see me blow a fuse, you know? He says I’m one little hot tamale.
So he send me this picture of three women dressed up like bishops. He says it is in Sweden and they are Lutherans. I look at the picture and first thing is I’m not sure if they are women or men at all. I think for sure the one on the right is a woman dressed like a bishop and that’s pretty funny. But with the other two I’m not sure. I think the one in the middle is maybe a woman who looks like a man and the one on the left is maybe a man who looks like a woman. But how you going to know nowadays? Put people in the same clothes, and make it long robes and who can tell? What you going to do, lift up their cassock and check? Anyway I think Father likes to send me these guessing games sometimes.
But I take his word for it and all three are women dressed up like bishops. Is this Halloween or something when they are all wearing costume? “No” Father Longenecker tells me that some Protestants like Lutherans and Anglicans also have bishops and they let women and lesbians be bishops too and they all dress up like a bishop and everything.I don’t know about all that. It seems crazy to me, but hon, have you seen what they are wearing? You can tell they are heretics by what they are wearing. Heresy is something that is almost true, or true up to a point, and that’s the same with these vestments. I got to be honest with you hon. They look to me like a cross between a horse blanket and a costume from that old TV show, Lost in Space. Father Longenecker say that the women kind of look like aliens too, but I had to scold him because he’s a priest and he’s supposed to be nice to people.
But there is a serious point hon. Listen. Why don’t these people want to have a traditional cope and miter? It’s because they hate tradition, that’s why. They wear radical clothes because they are radical people. They wear clothes that express themselves rather than expressing the office they hold. I remember one time in Barcelona we get this young bishop who said he didn’t want to wear a miter and a cope and ring and all the bishop’s special vestments because he doesn’t want to be special and he doesn’t think he is any better than anybody else. Mgr. Quixote, who was my professor of Ecclesiastical Haberdashery at Salamanca University took him aside and said, “Your Grace, with the greatest respect, everybody already agrees with you. They don’t think you’re so special either.” The new bishop kind of misses the point hon because he says, “Really! Then I won’t wear them. I think they embarrass me. I don’t want them to be looking at me.”
So Monsignor Quixote says, “What I mean is they don’t think it’s all about you. They want to see the Bishop. They are not coming to see you. They are coming to see the Church and the Bishop stands for the Church. The Bishop’s robes do something very important your grace. They block you out. With any luck you will get your wish and no one will see you at all. Then when you’re gone the next bishop will wear the same cope and miter and they won’t see him either.”
Lucky this priest is pretty smart, so he says, “You mean instead of the fancy robes making me special they actually make me not so special?”
“You got it!” says Monsignor. “The splendid robes are not because you’re a splendid person, but because the office of the bishop is splendid. The better bishop you are the more you will forget about yourself.”
So that’s the problem with these robes that are ‘creative’. They draw attention to themselves and they draw attention to the people wearing them and the people who made them. Listen hon. These vestments say, “Look at me. I’m radical. I’m a woman bishop. I’m something special. I am going to change the world.” It is saying, “Women priests are good. People who don’t like them are bad.”
This is why these vestments are so bad. Because they are preaching to me. Good vestments preach by being humble. The only thing you should notice is that they are made from the finest materials with the finest workmanship. It’s simple hon. Vestments should not send a message.
You want to send a message? Send a telegram.