Thanks be to God for a diligent Diocesan archivist who is organizing stunningly beautiful objects that are being made available for use in parishes, objects that have been hidden away, reminders of the beauty of God and a vital part of our heritage tragically ignored and practically rejected by a generation far too eager to abandon the Catholic story and the Church's vibrant artistic legacy.
|Fig. 1. After (Left) & Before (R)/Click on images to enlarge.|
|Fig. 2. Washing and rinsing.|
- Disassembly. The candlesticks unscrewed from the top. A long threaded rod (foreground) forms the spine of the candlestick. A gentle twist of the bobeche (wax catcher/second from left, Fig. 2) and the entire candlestick was easily disassembled.
- First rinse. Each item was soaked in warm soapy water (dish soap) for approximately one minute then rinsed to remove residue from prior attempts at cleaning. The nylon brush was used on stubborn areas.
- Second rinse. Warm water. It is very important to rinse off any cleanser residue before using the Weiman's! Don't mix chemicals! Dangerous vapours develop.
- Second cleaning. Each item cleaned with Weiman's Brass Polish (Amazing stuff!) Always use WBP in a well ventilated area! Follow the instructions on the label. Wear rubber or latex gloves, an apron and eye protection. The use of a brush tends to cause a spray of particles. The nylon brush was used to clean the tiny decorative ridges on the two columns (Fig. 2), centre cups, bobeche and base. A soft brass wire brush was used to clean tight stubborn areas. Note: some wire brushes are far too stiff and made of a material that can scratch brass. It is important to only use a brush with soft bristles. Otherwise, use a stiff nylon brush or old toothbrush.
- Polishing. Items polished with "dirty cloth", i.e., a cloth for polishing off tarnish and excess polish.
- Third rinse. Items rinsed and dried with dry cloth.
- Centre rod cleaned with CLR (great product!) or Comet cleanser (also a very handy product!) and wire brush, then dried with a separate old cloth. You want an old cloth because cleaning any rusty bits will really soil the cloth. It is very important to rinse off any prior cleanser residue before using another chemical Don't mix chemicals! Dangerous vapours develop. Always use the Comet cream cleanser in a well ventilated area. Follow instructions on the product label! The soft brass wire brush was used to remove stubborn grime, rust and corrosion on the centre rod, the insides of the various parts, and the under side of the base. If using a brush with Comet, use eye protection or apply the brush while shielding the object in a cloth.
- Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) lightly applied to rod threads.
- Reassembly and final polishing. Soft dry cloth.
|Rubber gloves not shown.|
Sign of the Cross
Heavenly Father, source of all beauty and goodness, guide my hand as I undertake this little endeavour to restore these objects entrusted to our care by our forebears. May these objects, rendered clean so as to return them to brilliance, point to You and dispose people to Your beauty. In Jesus' name. Amen.
|Cleaned and polished.|
The column of each tall candlestick is decorated with a fleur de lis pattern. Because many of our early priests in the Diocese were of Belgian and French origin, the pattern tends to suggest the candlesticks are probably from one of the many missions established by one of those missinoary priests. Fr. Brabant, perhaps? or, a priest with strong French leanings. The fleur de lis also reminds one of the French Canadian Sisters of Saint Anne, a Québec based order of teaching sisters who were active on Vancouver Island from the first arrival of the Church on these shores. Well, technically speaking, the Sisters arrived in a later wave of missionary activity. The French (Québec) and Belgians established the more permanent foundation a century after the Franciscans had first arrived at Yuquot on the West Coast in the late 1700s.
The first Catholic presence on Vancouver Island occurred as early as 1774. Spanish Franciscan Fathers Juan Crespi, Tomás de la Peña and Benito Sierra, chaplains aboard visiting ships, visited briefly in 1774 and 1775. The first Mass celebrated on Vancouver Island was June 24, 1789 at Nootka. The first resident priest there for some thirteen months was the Spaniard Fr. Magin Catala (Summer, 1793).—cf. Msgr. P. Hanley, The Early History of the Catholic Church on Vancouver Island.
Architects: Maurice Perrault and Albert Mesnard
Based on the plans for a church built in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, Perrault and Mesnard borrowed much from the medieval architecture of European churches.
The double asymmetrical towers are typical of Québec churches and a characteristic of the High Victorian Gothic style. This was an attempt to follow the "unfinished" look that made fourteenth and fifteenth century churches popular.—Wikipedia.
The candlesticks, which were quite tarnished, seized my interest when I picked them up and felt their weight. As any savvy peruser of antique store fare knows, you have to put on a pokerface and appear somewhat disinterested, though not too much so, otherwise dealers will smell a rube and be less inclined to bargain. The listed price was very reasonable. To an informed shopper, even double the listed price would have been reasonable.
The same visit during which I spotted the candlesticks, I spotted a case which I suspected was a travelling Mass kit of sorts. The dealer allowed me to open the case. The "Mass" kit was in complete disarray. The items were meant to fit together in a very compact and efficient manner, held in place by latches and stretchy bands. The case itself was a foldable altar. Two wings, draped in purple velvet and lined with short gold tassels, opened out from the central mensa. The kit was probably one used by a high-church protestant of some flavour. Though there was an altar crucifix, which attached to the inside of the case lid when opened, and a chalice, a purple stole and other Catholic-like items, some of the objects contained therein were not used in Catholic liturgy: ten individual communion cups, for example. After fitting together the objects and narrating their purpose, the dealer thanked me and said he would reserve the candlesticks for me. With little hint of the enthusiasm I was concealing, I mentioned that I might return in three or four days.
When I returned to the store later in the week, the dealer had sold the "Mass" kit a day after I put it in order. The dealer offered the candlesticks to me at a very low price in gratitude for my having arranged and described for him the various items contained in the kit. Based on the information he himself had been given, the dealer was able to well inform the purchaser who was happy to pay the listed fee of several hundred dollars for such a charming item.
I must say, I was of mixed emotions when I discovered the kit. To see any religious item in an antique store or curio shop, especially a kit containing gilded patens and a solid silver chalice dedicated for worship, is somewhat upsetting. Upsetting because a crucifix, for starters, is nothing to be commodified as a mere antique to covet. However, I suspect from the description provided by the dealer, the purchaser of the kit was most likely an individual affiliated with a religious community who appreciated the kit for what it is. So then, the kit found its way back into loving hands.
|Ready for use in Catholic worship!|
Rest assured, the candlesticks and other items will be well cared for as long, at least, as this sacristan is around to care for them.