The Founders of the Cistercian Order are said to have described themselves as pulchritudinis studium habentes- those intent on Beauty, the Beauty of holiness, the Beauty of God.
Perhaps it was this same love of Beauty quickened by necessity that inspired three monks of Our Lady of the Valley in Cumberland, Rhode Island to open a small vestment shop in the undercroft of the abbey church. There they would sew chasubles, copes and stoles for their own sacristy.
The year was 1949. Soon visitors were requesting vestments like those they had seen during the monastic Liturgy, and The Holy Rood Guild was born.
After a disastrous fire in 1950, the monastic community relocated to a large farm property in Spencer, Massachusetts and was renamed Saint Joseph's Abbey. And here the work of the Guild has continued.
Work has always enjoyed special esteem in the Cistercian tradition, since it gives the monks the opportunity of sharing in the divine work of creation and restoration, and of following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Monastic work is undertaken in a spirit of service, generosity and faith. And as St. Benedict reminds us the primary purpose of our work is that "God may be glorified in everything."
The work of The Holy Rood Guild is a collaborative effort in which the monks are assisted by a group of highly skilled and dedicated tailors drawn from a strong local tradition of sewing and crafting. Each vestment is hand-crafted with meticulous attention to detail, using patterns and techniques handed on by the first monks of the Guild. Fabric motifs are carefully matched; tassels for stoles are entirely handmade.
Only the finest tapestries, damasks, velvets and galloon bandings are chosen for their beauty and appropriateness. Many are woven and colored to our exact specifications; some imported directly from European artisans working in a centuries-old tradition.
From the earliest days of the Church the intuition of the faithful has always been that the praise and worship of God are worthy of the best and the most beautiful. The vestment is, indeed, raiment for the Lord's service, a "sacred garment," whose "sacredness derives from the nature of the events in which it is worn." 1
From its inception The Holy Rood Guild has been known not only for the quality and fine tailoring of its vestments but also for its sensitivity to Christian worship. We trust that our work is an expression of our monastic life of prayer and praise. And we hope that the beauty of our vestments will in turn lead the worshipping community to prayer and praise and enhance the dignity of the Sacred Liturgy.
Truly a work of art, the vestment must 'bear the weight of mystery, awe, reverence and wonder that the liturgical action expresses;' and lead beyond itself to evoke 'the radiance of profound beauty.' 2
For over fifty years it has been our privilege to clothe the Church, in the person of her ministers, with beauty and nobility that will fittingly express the reverence, love and devotion which the Church brings to her celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, that work of God to which nothing is to be preferred.
Simplicity of design, quality of materials and excellence in craftsmanship have always been our hallmark. The result is timeless vesture of unparalleled beauty and quality that will enhance your Church's worship for years to come.
 Aidan Kavanaugh, "Liturgical Vesture in the Catholic Tradition," in Raiment for the Lord's Service, Christa Mayer-Thurman (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1975), 14.
 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Built of Living Stones, (Washington: 2000), n. 148.