Historic vestments returned to monks in New Norcia

300 years old

An exquisite 18th-century cope featuring elaborate floral designs in pastel silks and gilded silver embroidery has returned to New Norcia following almost twelve months' conservation work.

Highly respected Western Australian textile conservator, Rinske Car, led the project which was funded by a grant from the Melbourne-based Copland Foundation. The Foundation, which has a special interest in assisting historic houses in the care of their contents, awarded New Norcia $50,000 for the conservation of a rare 19th Century mitre as well as the Cope

The cope, which is one of the largest and most significant pieces in the Benedictine Community’s collection of more than 800 vestments, is thought to be of northern Italian origin and is believed to be a gift to New Norcia’s founder, Rosendo Salvado, on one his five trips to Europe. It was in use on solemnities and special feasts up until the mid-1950s.

The successful application to the Copland Foundation followed two earlier surveys into the significance and preservation needs of the New Norcia vestment collection. These surveys, both funded by the National Library of Australia, were carried out by Dr Ian McLeod, Executive Director of the WA Museum Fremantle and Maritime Heritage, and Rinske Car.

To celebrate the return of the restored cope, Rinske Car gave a special presentation on the project to the monks and guests at New Norcia.  Ms Car explained that the work was based on the survey of the collection by herself and Dr McLeod.

'There was also research into the history of the collection, followed by scientific analysis of their constitutions and consideration of preventive approaches that can be applied to their care,' Ms Car said.


Historic vestments returned to New Norcia

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