The following is part of the presentation delivered on Sunday, November 17, 2019 for St. George’s on the Hill, Etobicoke 175th Anniversary, 1844 – 2019 by Marlene Hutzul Reesor
The Antependia or more commonly known as the Hangings decorate the chancel area that primarily includes the main altar, Lady altar, pulpit, and lectern in a church. The various liturgical colours of the Hangings, Vestments reflect the Christian liturgy or seasons within the church… Purple the colour of Lent; Blue is the color of Advent is all about Mary as we await with her for the arrival of the Incarnate God; White is the colour symbolizing innocence and joy is used for Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, weddings, baptisms and funerals to name a few; Red symbolizes sacrifice, charity and is used during Holy Week and is indicative of the Holy Spirit and Martyrdom, and Green is the colour of ordinary time, from Pentecost until Advent, which is the longest season in the church. Green colour symbolizes spring, life, fidelity and growth in the Holy Spirit.
There are many symbols that are found in Christianity to decorate Hangings. Some symbols that have been used in St. George’s Hangings include:
- The Cross: a symbol of Christ and his sacrifice for our salvation, redemption and atonement
- Alpha- Omega: Greek letters forming a monogram for one of the names of Jesus Christ, meaning “the Beginning and the End”. The term is found in Revelations 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega”, says the Lord God.
- The Phoenix rising out of the flames is a symbol of Christ’s resurrection and it harkens to the hope of our own resurrection
- Wheat and Grapes are emblems of the Eucharist. Wheat the ingredient for the Host and grapes used to make wine which symbolizes Christ’s blood which was shed for us.
- Rose: a symbol to denote our connection to the Anglican Church of England
- Greek Letters HIS: represents Jesus, Son and Saviour
- Rope/Gold cord: a symbol of the rope used by the soldiers to bind Jesus when he was betrayed by Judas in Gethsemane.
The oldest Hangings in use at St. George’s are the Red. They were done in 1965 by Beth Metcalfe and the other Hanging pieces were done by members of the Chancel Guild, Vera Holdsworth, Marian Philips, Mary Baillie, Dorothy Fletcher and Audrey Marshall. In 2010/2011, I restored the red burse that is placed over the chalice.
In 1989, Rev’d David Luxton, Mary Baillie, Elizabeth Bolton and Mary Bartle discussed and presented the purchase of the Medici-Blue wool Hangings to the Chancel Guild. The design suggests spaciousness, motion and hope for the Advent season. The Hangings were dedicated in 1991 as memorial gifts by the following parishioners:
- Gwen Gerecke, in memory of her mother, Mrs. Constance Williams
- Don Adamson, in memory of his wife, Helen Margaret Adamson, and
- Mary Baillie, in memory of her parents, Marion and Thomas Graham
Lent’s liturgical colour is purple recalling the royal robe that the Roman soldiers mockingly placed on Jesus. The Purple set of Hangings were designed and supplied by Jim Maclean’s Company and given to the Glory of God by Linda Javorski in memory of her mother, Sheila Pamela Hatch in 2005.
In the mid 1990’s, I embroidered a veil to cover the chalice using the image in the Batik, designed by Eleanor Paine in 1974, which is found at the back of the church. When I showed it to Rev’d David Luxton, he immediately suggested that I consider doing a complete set of Green Hangings. And so, I did!
Because of the detail of the image of St. George and the Dragon, I did the embroidery directly on linen and appliqued it on the green fabric followed by edging or couching it with gold cord.
The Main Altar super frontal has 10 spikes with orange centres that represent the 10 Commandments and symbolizes the temptations of life that ripples underneath our daily lives. The Pulpit and Lectern Hanging designs included: St. George’s red cross on the shield and crosses modelled after swords of medieval times with ornate hilts and long thick tapered blades. The ribbon trim for all the pieces was the same as the trim on the Cope.
The embroidery for the current Green Hangings was begun in 1995 and completed in 1997 and dedicated June 14, 1998 to the Glory of God in the memory of my father, John Hutzul, and my husband’s parents, David and Jean Reesor.
At a Chancel Guild meeting in May 2012, a small committee was struck, consisting of Arlene Dougall, Heather Bacon, Rev. Pat Blythe, Rev. Canon John Wilton and me to create new chasubles. The Bramante Company created the new White Chasuble and provided the same white fabric for me to use to design and embroider the new White Hangings.
From ecclesiastical sources, and visits to the AGO exhibit of the early Renaissance stories in Florentine Art between 1300 – 1340, provided inspiration. In August of 2012, I commenced to work on the centre motif for the Main Altar. A Marian symbol “Ava Maria”, Holy Mary, the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God, for the centre was created. The Ava Maria symbol is surrounded by a five-lobed shield (the five lobes representing the wounds of Christ on the Cross); the Fleur de Lis elements symbolize female virtue and spirituality, and, also, the Holy Trinity. The blue colours used reflect Mary and the blue in the chancel windows. The red English roses represent the connection to the Anglican Church of England. Once completed, this embroidery work was appliqued onto the fabric and surrounded by gold cords couched into place.
The design of the Phoenix for the Lady Altar was a re-interpretation of the design on the former White Hangings. On the Main Altar, there is the letters HIS. HIS is the monogram representing Jesus from the Greek language for Iesous Huios Soter (Jesus, Son, Saviour). These letters were incorporated into the design of the super frontal for Main Altar, Lady Altar, Pulpit and Lectern.
The current White Hangings were dedicated June 23, 2013 to the Glory of God by Heather Bacon in memory of her husband, Jim Bacon, and by me in memory of my mother Cora Magee Hutzul.
To commemorate the 175th Anniversary of St. George’s, a new embroidered piece for the Credence Table, where communion vessels are placed, was presented and dedicated by The Reverend Dr Pearce Carefoote.