26 July, 2019

Rare Engraving of Archbishop Polding

Guild of Archbishop Polding

A recent discovery has been a drawing of Archbishop Polding sketched around the year 1850 by a local artist named O'Connor.  This pen and ink study was most likely made into an engraving and published in a magazine or journal, as was common before journalistic photography.

The archbishop's appearance is distinctive in this drawing, since he is wearing a somewhat rare item of episcopal dress called the cappa magna.  The cappa magna is a voluminous enclosing cloak to which is attached a large hood.  It also has an extended train of some metres in length.  Typically, this hood was lined with the fur of a form of weasel called "ermine" which has white fur with a black tail.  The image shews this peculiar arrangement of white fur with small black tails. 

Although every bishop was entitled to use this vesture, most likely at that time in Australia, Archbishop Polding would have worn this in his role as Metropolitan of Australia.  Originally intended for the practical purpose of keeping the bishop warm sitting in the Cathedral, its use became merely ceremonial and was restricted to the most solemn occasions.


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