Minnesota and North Dakota Chapter

A Burse for a Corporal

The liturgical burse is a pocket of embroidered cloth designed to contain the corporal. The latter is a square linen cloth that is laid on the altar beneath the chalice and paten, symbolizing Jesus’ burial shroud. Its practical purpose is to catch any particles of the consecrated hosts or drops of the consecrated wine.

On this richly decorated burse the risen Christ emerges from the tomb frightening two soldiers who were keeping watch. The scene if framed by two embroidered volutes entwined with roses. The distinction between the divine and the earthly is perfectly captured by delicate threadwork used to render the risen Christ as an almost translucent figure radiating light. The perfection in perspective and the minuteness of each detail exquisite underlines the mastery of this piece of liturgical art.

Conservation of this burse was possible courtesy of the Minnesota chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, 2003.

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