Connecting threads on vestments gifted by Hitler

A British parish is seeking to unravel the mystery behind a set of vestments thought to have been given as a gift by Adolf Hitler to a German priest in the early 1930s.

British paper, Sunderland Today reports that the tale goes that Hitler had the expensive, elaborately embroidered vestments made as a present for a German Catholic priest whose allegiance to Hitler dwindled after the Nazis came to power.

It is believed the priest himself fled to England at the outbreak of World War II, the paper says.

Somehow, the vestments which include four robes and two altar items handmade in Belgium out of Spanish silk, were sold and eventually ended up in St Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Millfield, Sunderland.

Ina Murton, who is in charge of the church vestments, told Sunderland Today that the story of the vestments has been passed on orally "but we have no written records and I don't know the name of the priest who owned them".

Over the years the robes have been worn by the local clergy but have become so frail they can no longer be worn.

"They were worn until a few years ago, which is a good thing because that's what they were made for. But, the past three or four years we have been unable to use them," Ms Murton said.

"They are absolutely beautiful, very heavy and elaborately embroidered."

She said the vestments are not worth a great deal in their present condition and repairs would cost about 8,000 (A$20,000) that the church does not have.

The parish "wouldn't have paid a lot for them because the church has always been scrimping and saving," she concluded.

Hitler's robes (Sunderland Today, 6/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Mary Magdalene Church, Millfield, Sunderland

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7 Sep 2006