Hassocks and Pries-Dieu


The image is of a prie-dieu cushion at St. George’s (Episcopal) Cathedral, Jerusalem. Hood-doff to Fr. Steve Lambert Rice, Obl.S.B., for providing the photo.

I confess to having taken these seemingly humble works of art for granted in my Episcopalian days. But I recognize in retrospect how they fostered devotion and reflection on mysteries of the faith, just as stained glass windows were meant to do, both for the literate and the illiterate. The work that goes into building hassocks and embroidering them is also a form of prayer worth being thankful for.

Perhaps had St. Martha, whose feast day it is, lived in our day, she would have been actively involved in a parish’s guild for embroidering hassocks. Should she be the patron saint of hassock embroiderers?

Br. John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B.

P.S. – I am not sure if the word “hassock” applies to cushions attached to pries-dieu. Also uncertain in my mind is the proper spelling of the plural form of prie-dieu. If the final part of the compound word is made plural, it would be “prie-dieux,” but that veers, unintentionally, into pantheism. “Kneelers” would be an alternate term, though there are some authorities that say the word “kneeler” refers to the one kneeling, not the object on which a kneeler kneels. Fun with words on a Monday morning.

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