Murray McCance; Vestment Maker
Brighton, Sussex: The Dolphin Press Limited, 1959. 12 mo. (7 1/4 inches tall), original staple-bound pamphlet, buff pink paper wrappers. Very faint wear and toning along spine. About Fine. Item #1210
"A HOLY VESTURE FOR GLORY AND FOR BEAUTY"
Scarce example of a striking trade brochure for Murray McCance—the Canadian designer of fine liturgical vestments—with a splendid front wrapper, captioned: "Murray McCance / Vestment Maker / 54 Hiawatha Street, St. Thomas Ontario / Canada." Printed in red-and-black on good tinted paper and illustrated throughout with 12 black-and-white illustrations and 10 additional decorations printed in red. Printed in England at the Dolphin Press Limited (Sussex). The catalogue is laid-in with 3 additional sheets (one folded), illustrated with six black-and-white photographs. The folded one (soliciting appointments) is annotated/dated in ink 1964-5. An excellent copy.
After entering a Cistercian Abbey in Massachusetts in 1950, McCance learned how to construct vestments for priests and habits for monks and lay brothers. The Abbot soon decided that McCance was more suited to the life of a designer than that of a Monk. He left the Abbey and, following studies in fine arts and history (including the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies and Oxford University), McCance opened a shop in St. Thomas, Ontario. Stressing that "vestments are not uniforms and should be allowed distinction and individuality," a brief Introduction conveys McCance's guiding aspirations: "The highest aim of the modern designer of vestments should be to take his share in the great revival and reform of the Liturgy by supplying the Church with truly liturgical costumes. His judgment must be guided by a serious study of history and tradition and his hope must be that the products of his hands will never seem a thing made by man for man, but 'a holy vesture for glory and for beauty.'" McCance later expanded his design efforts to the architecture of churches themselves. His obituary notes, "Murray combined his love of the church with architectural design, contributing to ten cathedral and forty-seven parish church restorations. In recognition of his ecclesiastical architecture, Murray was awarded 'Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice' by Pope John Paul II and named Knight of the Holy Sepulchre" (Toronto Star, Oct. 12, 2018).