The "Tiffany" Chalice
Sean Cassidy and Pat Higgins bring many gifts to their service of the altar. Recently they restored the carrying case for a chalice set that was made in Paris by the firm Poussielgue-Rusand and was purchased for the Father Founder from Tiffany & Co. on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the organization of the parish. It was used at the first service in the church in 1895 and is still used on great occasions of the church year. The Rector asked Sean and Pat to write about their work.
One of the many treasures of Saint Mary's which you see on major feast days is a gold and sterling silver communion set "Presented to the Reverend Thomas McKee Brown, priest, on the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1894 A.D. by his loving parishioners in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the organization of the parish of St. Mary the Virgin, New York."
What you don't see is the custom-made wooden box, which holds the various pieces of the communion set while it is not in use. While the entire set is now over 105 years old and still in very good condition, the box had suffered the ravages of time, heat, and humidity. The black leather covering on the box was deteriorating to dust, exposing the wood (probably birch) which was drying and cracking, its seams loosened and the hinges damaged beyond repair. The red felt lining was torn and worn and had become detached from the frame in many places. In short, the box had to be restored or it would be lost. The task proved to be somewhat formidable.
We began with the lining, which was carefully hand sewn and re-attached to the wooden framework. The exterior of the box was sanded to remove the remaining cracked and drying leather covering. Since the original hinges were especially crafted in 1894 and could not be saved, some research was required to find suitable replacements. Solid brass hinges made for a humidor appeared to be the answer. These had to be ordered from a local supplier. While awaiting the new hinges, we began to look for a source for a high quality leather, which could be used to cover the box as it was originally. A search on the internet led us to a leather wholesale house in Texas who said they specialized in "unusual" and "special" situations. A call was placed to Texas and we discussed in great detail the scope of the job and what was needed.
Within two weeks, half of a tanned cowhide arrived at our door. Now came the task of cutting the leather, attaching it to the wood box and lid, dyeing it and polishing it. Again, we went to the internet and contacted a master leather worker who provided us the information needed. The box and the lid were re-sanded to remove any dirt or glue residue and contact cement was applied so the leather could be attached and rolled tight to the box and lid. The leather had to meet on all corners so the seams could not be seen. This required several applications of cement and hand tightening. After a full two days to dry completely, the leather was now ready for preparation for dyeing. A special de-glazing compound was applied to the raw leather and left to dry. The box and lid were now dyed with three applications of a leather dye and left to dry for another two days. Now, the first of three daily applications of a special leather polish and lubricant were applied. After being allowed to dry completely, a final buffing brought the leather to a beautiful gloss black. Now the hinges were carefully fit into the lid and the box and made flush so the lid would close tightly.
Although we could not tell if the original box had handles, we decided to add a set of brass handles to the box and a retaining chain to the lid to make sure the hinges would not be stressed with the opening and closing. The Tiffany box was now finished and restored to "newness" so that our beautiful communion set from Father Brown would have a suitable storage place once again. There is much pleasure in seeing a labor of love completed and returned to its rightful place.
Sean Cassidy and Pat Higgins
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Jack, Ann, Olga, Helen, Shirley, Dawn, Bryn, Mary, Lucille, Frances, André, Eleanor and Hendrick . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 26: 1985 Kenneth Mealy.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, Psalm 34, Revelation 19:1-2a, 4-9, John 6:47-58 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Breidenthal, Preacher: Richard Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth . . . Confessions will be heard on June 24 by Father Shin . . . . Confessions will be heard on July 1 by Father Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . This will be the last Sunday of the choir season. Our interim choral director and his singers have given us a great year. To all, your service is much appreciated. We look forward to hearing you on Assumption and to the new season in the fall . . . Many thanks to Jon Bryant for arranging the flowers on Trinity Sunday while Howard Christian was away . . . It is wonderful to have the Reverend Mary Haddad assisting at the altar. She did a beautiful job last Sunday, her first Sunday serving as deacon at Saint Mary's. Mother Haddad was one of our seminarians during the spring of this year and we are so happy for her . . . "Smoky Mary's" was truly smoky during the Solemn Mass last Sunday. The Celebrant could not see the congregation or even the first pew when he turned to give the blessing . . . Michael Reid, one of our parishioners, will be performing in two of the free operas in Central Park this summer with the New York Grand Opera: "Un Ballo in Maschera," Wednesday, June 28 at 7:30 PM and "Don Carlo" in August . . . Attendance last Sunday: 151.
DIOCESAN PRIDE EVENTS . . . The New York City Gay Pride Parade, this Sunday, June 25, will once again include a float and banners from the Diocese of New York. Marchers (who attend Mass earlier in the day!) are asked to meet in Section 8 on 55th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues by 11:45 AM. Those wishing to join in the parade later in the day should look for the religious groups and find the Episcopal banners. At 6:30 PM there will be Evensong at the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields (Hudson Street at Christopher Street). Bishop Roskam and Bishop Sisk are expected. If you plan to attend Evensong be at the church early since in previous years this was an extremely crowded event. Last year more than 300 Episcopalians marched with representatives of other faiths in the parade. In addition, more than 5,000 flyers were distributed which listed every congregation in the Diocese.
LAST WEDNESDAY EVENING . . . June 28 will be the last class for the summer. It will be led by Deacon Mary Haddad on Matthew 10:34-39. The topic is War or Peace and will explore the just war theories. There will be no classes during July or August. The series will resume in the Fall.
JOURNEY TO SEOUL . . . We're still collecting funds for our parishioner, Amelia Rochester-Nagy, to make the mission trip with the diocesan youth program in August. So far we have collected $760.00. A total of $1,500.00 is needed. The youth leave late on August 15th, the Solemnity of the Assumption, one of the great feasts of Our Lady. Your gift, large or small, will help. Please make your check payable to Saint Mary's and mark it for the Korean trip. Thank you!
THREE BIBLES LEFT . . . Twelve of the fifteen Bibles needed for the Christian education classroom have been given as memorials. The cost of each Bible is $35.00. If you would like to give one or more please send the church office a check and let us know of any intention so that the Bible can be inscribed "in honor of" or "in memory of" or "in thanksgiving for". Thank you!
MARK YOUR CALENDARS . . . The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus, was ordained priest on August 9, 1960. I brought this to the Board of Trustees. They suggested that Father be invited to be celebrant for Assumption, August 15, 2000, at 6:00 PM. He has agreed and we are looking forward to celebrating this day and this ministry. The Venerable Peter Hannen, archdeacon of Montreal, will be preacher. There will be a special reception following the Mass. S.G.
This week at Saint Mary’s
7:00 PM The Dark Side of the Bible Deacon Mary Haddad on Matthew 10:34-39.
The topic is War or Peace and will explore theories of just war.
The Calendar for the Third Week after Pentecost
Wednesday Irenaeus, Bishop & Eve of Sts. Peter & Paul
Thursday Saint Peter & Saint Paul, Apostles
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday Monthly Requiem
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector, The Reverend Allen Shin, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant, The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, assisting priests, The Reverend Mary Haddad, assisting deacon, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.