The Winter Green Frontal on the High Altar

Many thanks to our Verger, Sara Klingner for sharing this information about our Winter Green Frontal.

Winter Green Frontal

 This green frontal is known to have pre-dated the renovation of the sanctuary in 1927.  Trinity is the only festival/season of the church year based on a doctrine rather than an event or person. The central motif of this frontal illustrates that doctrine in the so-called “Shield of the Trinity.”

The reading of the Latin words on this shield are “Father is not Son is not Holy Spirit is not Father” around the outer rim, and “The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God” toward the center.

Symbols of the Trinity surround the central shield, and include the trefoils on the superfrontal, triple grape leaf designs, and the shamrock, used by St. Patrick to teach the doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish he was seeking to Christianize. The bursting pomegranate is actually a symbol of the resurrection, but can serve as a reminder of the power of God over death.

Some portions of the center shield show wear, as do the center portions of many frontals and superfrontals from the days when the presiding celebrant stood at the altar with his back to the congregation.

The wear on this frontal can be seen in the dark areas of the leaves on the top of the central shield as well as on the side leaves. has been replaced with a new fringe that harmonizes with the color of the embroideries.

It is very difficult to put a value on embroideries of this quality, as this type of high-quality hand work is no longer available on this scale from commercial supply houses. Inde­pendent textile artists can duplicate this work, of course, but the costs are very, very high due to the amount of time and cost of materials involved, and few parishes exist which can afford to invest the equivalent of the down payment on a house in the duplication of a single altar frontal.

The altar guild minutes from May 1957 reported that the green superfrontal was taken to Morehouse Gorham in New York City to have its embroidery transferred to new silk.  It is possible that the fringe was removed at that time and remained off until it was replaced in October of this year.

In 1959 the frontal, the pulpit fall and Bible markers received some cosmetic work and received new fringe for the cost of $301! The secretary of the altar guild commented, “… we now have an essentially new set which should last for another fifty years.”

In 1989, restoration work was done on the pulpit fall and the bible markers and the matching chalice veil and burse were made from a silk altar cover found in the sacristy. This work was done by Andrea Bernsten, a well-known fabric artist who had a studio in Allentown.

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