MODERN ECCLESIASTICAL SPLENDOUR

We are rather apt to underrate the plate used in modern cathedrals, and forget that many of the rich vessels on the altars of our great cathedrals are old-sometimes very old. It is true that after the Reformation the cathedrals discarded or ceased to use many vessels the employment of which was essentially a part of the Roman Catholic faith. On the Continent of Europe some of the cathedrals possess, and use, not only rare old plate, but vessels enriched by modern silversmiths in the same lavish manner as in former days-the gifts of modern donors. Many of these things are specially made for relics which have been acquired for the purpose of forming a suitable setting for " quaint jewels " with a history. The Roman Catholic Cathedral, of Westminster, owns many fine examples of ecclesiastical plate, and in their use maintains the traditional splendour of the Middle Ages. The cathedral itself, a fine building owing its inception to Cardinal Wise-man, first Archbishop of Westminster, and only consecrated in 1910, is a worthy pile. Among the chief altar ornaments and vessels used there are several monstrances, one of gold, heavily jewelled with precious stones, of great beauty ; another of ancient workmanship also set with stones. A monstrance of Spanish workmanship rich with enamels was sent by an anonymous donor ; the largest monstrance in the possession of the cathedral chapter is, however, of gold filigree, ablaze with gems, standing fully three feet high. There are some shrines too, very beautiful, especially one in which is the leg-bone of St. Edmund, one time Archbishop of Canterbury. The gold chalices used in the mass are numerous and several of them are studded with rare gems ; among them is one which was given by King Alphonso of Spain. The Cathedral of Westminster is only one of many churches possessing especially rare and valuable plate, the work of modern silversmiths. There are instances of quite small buildings of the Protestant faith being built regardless of cost by wealthy donors, and it is readily understood that in such cases the silversmith would be commissioned to produce his very best in order that the full glory of ornate worship might be carried out in a fitting manner. Whatever the creed, at all times, pious donors have come forward to enrich altars and the worship of the churches by gifts of silver and gold.