Updated: Sep 21
One day, while having my big box of kosher salt blessed by Fr. Joshua, I happened to notice the horrifying condition of his travel stole. “What the hey is that ratty thing??!!”, I blurted out most inappropriately. It was one of those satin ribbon things that are the standard travel stole available out there. Short, wrinkled, badly fraying along the edges. Really, really sad.
It wasn’t Fr. Joshua’s fault. These stoles just aren’t made well. They do need to be thin to fit comfortably in a pocket, but his travel stole sees a lot of action, and the flimsy ribbon that they use doesn’t last very long at all.
If you think about it, the events that these humble stoles bear witness to can be some of the most intense moments of people’s lives – grave sites, hospital emergency rooms, accidents, hospice bedsides, airport confessions, home bound communions, sacramental encounters on the subway, prisons...
I lay awake that night staring at the ceiling, distressed thoughts running through my mind. I tried to put myself in a position where I would encounter said travel stole. What if I was on my death bed after living a life of debauchery. What if Fr. Joshua, as he is known to do, showed up just in the nick of time to administer last rites? Could I make a good confession while confronted with that messy thing? Could I? Was a bad stole capable of confounding a conversion? Horrors!
So then the question became, how do we make a better stole? It needs to be thin because the priest folds it up and carries it in his pocket with that small green prayer book. It needs to be beautiful, and dignified, and longer, and stronger, and definitely not embarrassing. We fiddled with a couple of designs that we hated.
Then SJ found us a source for delicious vintage Petersham, grosgrain, moire ribbon in plum purple and vanilla. We used our antique Cornely chain stitch machine to create a golden embroidered border, added fringe and goldwork spangles to the crosses and voila! – a travel stole worthy of the task.
We love making these so much that we offer them through the Canon’s webstore, Biretta Books.