Hats, Saints, Milliners, and a Synagogue

Saint Barbara (wood, German, 16th C.) dominating her tormentor

Saint Barbara (wood, German, 16th C.) dominating her tormentor

It was somewhat incongruous: a cantor welcoming a bevy of artists into his synagogue and blessing them as they began their observation of a Catholic saint’s feast day . . .  unless you knew that, oddly enough, hats were the glue that bound these strange bedfellows—creators, synagogue, and saint—together.

The occasion was a mid-November celebration of St. Catherine’s Day in New York, and the artists were milliners—artists who design, create, and hand-fashion head coverings of every description. They belong to the Milliners Guild, a trade association that originated in medieval Christian Europe.

Saints, along with guilds, were essential ingredients of the medieval stew. Every entity in the Middle Ages—from the state and city and guild to the king, lords, and commoners—depended on a saint for protection. Continue reading at Women’s Voices for Change

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