Transylvanian stole

I remember the day I got this as a gift from Judit Gellerd, the forever-advocate for Transylvanian Unitarians and herself now ordained, ’cause I felt I might actually make it through seminary and enter ministry. (But the stole stayed off my public shoulders until I was ordained.)

I mentioned it at PeaceBang’s Beauty Tips blog and said I’d post pics.

Transylvanian stoleTransylvanian stole detail

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. That is so nice. Makes me miss the village church so much. Never wore a stole when I preached there, just the cape. But your stole is a wonderful combination of an American stole and Erdelyi needlecraft.

  2. Do you know what the embroidery symbolizes? I have an idea what the chalice could be fore, but what’s up with the other stuff (flowers?)?

  3. BTW, I did not generally wear a stole on the many occasions that I preached in Transylvania, nor when I assisted with communion. My understanding is that the stole is generally thought of there as a Catholic symbol, and although they all know that UUs use them in the US and are willing to indulge us in that, I almost always wore either a borrowed cape or my black Geneva gown without stole. I think it was only when we had American groups visiting that I would add the stole.

  4. I also remember hearing that the tulip design was a historical symbol of liberation, and that folk art was one way that they could surreptitiously incorporate the tulip into public displays. I’d be interested in reading documentation of this point, if anyone has it.

  5. I’m not all that surprised, Scott — living in Transylvania was a great education in how divergent two cultures can be, and how sensitive such a vulnerable community can be about their traditions. One of the things I brought back was a heightened respect for both sacraments and the implicit traditions.

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