TillbakaThe Word

Book cushion

Silk damask book cushion made for St Stephen’s Church, Gävle. Woven at the Bevilacqua weavery, Venice, to designs by Sofia Widén, Ateljé Licium.

The white book cushion is of “Large Crosses” silk damask, and its motif is a stylised leaf surrounded by branches forming ogive shapes. The points of intersection have equal-armed crosses. This damask pattern, composed in 1928, has been used for numerous liturgical textiles in several churches. The book cushion is decorated with six flames and with corner tassels. The white book cushion is made of “Small Crosses” damask. The pattern, drawn in 1931, consists of small equal-armed crosses inscribed in a meander pattern. On this cushion, five of the fabric’s crosses have been embroidered and the corners are decorated with tassels. The cushion is one of several items made by Licium in 1932 for St Stephen’s Church, Gävle.

Book cushions reduced the wear and tear on the books themselves, which were stiffly bound and, in earlier times, could be richly decorated. The tradition of book cushions on the altar was one of several reintroduced in the first half of the 20th century, a period which, looking back, can now be termed the golden age of Swedish textile art where vestments and other liturgical textiles are concerned. At the same time, the idea was revived of using the liturgical colours of the Church’s year. For a long time, liturgical textiles had been mostly black or red, but a system was now brought back which had been codified in the Middle Ages, using specific liturgical colours for the different “seasons” of the Church’s year.

Green, standing for hope and faith, is used during Trinity and Epiphany. Red, nowadays, is displayed above all on Boxing Day, at Whitsun and on martyrs’ feast days. White is now used for festivals including happiness and victory. Purple is used mainly during Advent and Lent.