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A Cope for the National Bishop
Bishop Ray wearing the cope

"One of my favorite activities over the past several years has been creating and sewing church paraments and vestments," says, June Schramm, a member of First, Vancouver.

Early in 2002, ELCIC National Bishop Raymond Schultz asked her if she would make a cope for use by the National Bishop.

A cope is a long semicircular cloak, sometimes worn by clergy at worship. It may be worn over an alb or surplice for solemn processions, benedictions, funerals, weddings, matins or evensong.

June turned to Dick Aporta from Our Savior, Richmond, BC, for help in developing a design.

Dick taught art for 29 years at the high school level. He received his post secondary art education the Vancouver School of Art (now the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design), graduating with an Advanced Diploma in Design.

It took Dick 110 hours to design the cope and June 120 hours to make it.

"It has been an amazing, humbling experience to see my drawings turned into such a beautiful garment through June's skill," says Dick.

The Cope's Symbolism

The colour is Pentecost red and the prominent, central, image on the back is that of the crosier, the symbol of service and power of the office of National Bishop.

Looking at the front of the cope we see two vertical bands of flames, the orphrey. They are designed in an asymmetrical fashion in that either side is similar in shape, but not identical.

These columns of overlapping shimmering flames represent God's word in the spirit of Christ. At the very top some of the flames continue and join up at the back of the cope, in visual reference to the flames in the crosier.

In setting out to design the crosier on the back of the cope, the inspiration was to design it in a unique way, different from the ones usually seen.

It was envisioned as a sort of young sapling tree, naturally irregular in shape, still showing the marks where its branches have been removed.

the back of the cope

A number of the leaves are still attached, while a couple have dropped to the bottom.

This crosier still has its roots attached referring to a cycle of life, continuous as the drops of water fall literally and symbolically.

The accompanying symbols are organized and shown in a unified way around the crosier, inside the form of a double helix, with its references to life's building blocks.

From the bottom of this panel there are three fish swimming up, a natural reference to fishers on both coasts, as well as its' liturgical meaning of course.

Moving up we see the net, the rainbow of hope, and the olive branch of peace, as well as the flame inside the crook of the crosier, as a prologue of the design seen on the front of the cope of the orphrey. At the top of either side of the crosier there are mountain ranges laid out in a unusual vertical format, on the edge of the earth's curvature as it were, topped with blue skies, a further reference to Canada coast-to-coast.

The Materials Used

The cope itself is made of 100% fine wool. The design contains various types of metallic or shimmering fabrics and satins. However most of the materials used on the back are various shades and types of silks. For instance the gold pieces are gold silk, the crozier is raw silk and the blues are different types and weights of silk.

This article is an expanded version of "A Cope for the National Bishop", Canada Lutheran, December 2002, Vol. 17 No. 8 p. 42

In full communion with The Anglican Church of Canada
© Copyright 2007 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada