Pope to wear Thai silk vestments in Bangkok

Robes for Pope Francis and other prelates are being made with high-quality silk of globally known Jim Thompson brand
Pope to wear Thai silk vestments in Bangkok

A tailor works on a chasuble for Pope Francis to wear for Masses in Bangkok during his Nov. 20-23 visit to the capital of Thailand. 

Pope Francis will wear specially tailored clerical robes made of Thai silk during his visit to Thailand this month.

A dozen tailors are working long hours daily to create more than 200 vestments for the pope and the scores of bishops who will join him for two Masses in Bangkok.

“This is the highest honor possible for someone in my career,” said Pornsawan Saengpradab, one of the tailors working on the Mass vestments, according to a press release issued by the Archdiocese of Bangkok.

Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in the predominantly Buddhist Southeast Asian nation on Nov. 20. He is to lead two public Masses in the following two days before he leaves for Japan on Nov. 23 morning.

The clerical garbs are being made of high-quality silk textiles produced by the estate of the late Thai silk magnate Jim Thompson. They include two separate chasubles, the outermost Mass vestment, that Pope Francis will wear during the Masses.

Thompson was an American businessman who helped revitalize Thailand’s then moribund silk industry after the Second World War before his mysterious disappearance during a trip to Malaysia in 1967.

Silk fabrics produced under the Jim Thompson brand remain widely popular with tourists and connoisseurs of Thai silk products.

Besides Pope Francis, the bishops joining him for Mass at a stadium in Bangkok and at Assumption Cathedral the next day will also wear similarly designed garments.

Both the papal chasubles are embroidered with traditional Thai bird patterns featuring flamboyant dashes of Thai artistry. One garb is in gold color, while the other is white.

“The gold and white colors symbolize both innocence and joyfulness,” Father Peter Chetha Chaiyadej, who is in charge of coordinating the liturgical services for the papal visit, was quoted as saying.

The colors have been chosen based on the liturgy of the day. The feast of the Presentation of Mary falls on Nov. 21, the priest said.

Red dominates the chasubles of prelates joining the pope for Mass on Nov. 22, the feast day of St. Cecilia, a martyr. Red vestments are used for Masses of martyrs, recalling the blood they shed for the faith, the priest explained.

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