Short history of christening and christening gowns

Christening is one of the first rituals in a child’s life: they are initiated to an intimate and continual communion with God, and to their Christian society. This sacrament was instituted by Christ himself. Baptism had a twofold purpose: cleansing (gr. katharismos) and enlightening (gr. photismos) of the recipient. Only adults were baptised during the first centuries of the Christian world. The early Christian community practiced baptism during Easter. Later, the other suitable baptising day was Whitsunday. After the ceremony, the baptised person was dressed in a white dress, called an alb (lat. Linea alba, gr. Fotikia). For members of early Christian communities, baptism meant the beginning of a new life, a complete inner change. Through baptism the soul was purified. There was a tradition whereby Christians in the early Church used white garments as a means of recognising one another. The ritual of infant baptism was introduced in about 350 AD.

It is still the custom in the Roman Catholic Church to give a baptised baby a white cloth and candle as christening gifts.

Sometimes people think that the giving of a name is the central part of the baptism ceremony; historically, it was not. In early times the naming ceremony was a separate church ceremony that took place before baptism. In the beginning, the Christians followed the Jewish tradition of giving the child a name eight days after birth. Today, the naming ceremony is part of baptism.

Over the centuries, ladies fashion has influenced and shaped the nature of christening gowns. During the 18th century, we find the first record in Finland of children’s clothing in inventories and the clothes mentioned are christening robes and christening bonnets for both sexes. The bonnet had a significant role in the baptism ceremony. These christening bonnets also form the oldest part of the dress collection in the National Museum of Finland (early 18th century). Here in Finland only urban residents from the upper- and middle-classes dressed their babies in white christening gowns during 19th century. It was common to dress the baby in his or her best clothing for the christening ceremony, even if the clothes were not white. White christening gowns became common in the beginning of the 20th century in rural areas. At same time, the fashion began to indicate the sex of the baby. The model of dress remained same, but the colours of the silk ribbons decorating the baptismal robe were light blue for boys and pink for girls. The next step in fashion was to separate the dress and the slip, with the colour of slip then indicating the sex of the child. 

God’s angel, my holy guardian

it was you who was sent by God to protect me

Christening gowns

Gathering together for the christening of a newborn child is one of the family’s most important celebrations. We are pleased to offer you what we believe is an excellent collection of baptismal robes with accessories to highlight this memorable religious event. Our classical dresses are suitable for boy as well as girl babies. We have worked hard to find quality materials with sustainable backgrounds. To honour the early Christian tradition and the sacrament of baptism, all of our christening gowns are white like a dove, a feature based on the first Christian vestments in ancient Rome. The elegance of our baptism dresses and their quality derive from the use of the finest materials, beautiful cuts of robes and hand-embroidered details. The materials are all natural fibres, such as silk, linen and cotton, which provide a sense of luxury and feeling of softness on the baby’s skin.

All christening gowns in the Orarium Collection are fastened in the back with small pearl buttons.  We have chosen two high-quality patterned lace fabrics for this collection. The first belongs to the Guipure lace group and is named Duchesse de Bruxelles. It is finely made lace with shaded floral motifs in 100 % finest combed cotton. You can easily recognise this lace pattern with raised edgings. The second type of lace belongs to net-based laces and is called Bruxelles lace with motif inspiration from classical laces with floral and butterfly decoration. In the 1850s, manufacturers in Brussels created this machine-made net-decorated technique as a combination of a variety motifs made using mixed needle and bobbin laces.  Both high-quality types of lace in our collection are machine-made in Germany. Some of the christening dresses are combined with borders of machine-woven bobbin laces. Our linen and cotton bobbin lace designs and patterns are based on 19th century hand-made laces or reproductions from earlier centuries, and are machine woven in Europe. For each baptismal robe you will find accessories such as bonnets, shoes, socks, cushions, towels or smaller pieces of cloth that match the robes.

High-quality materials and elegant tailoring make our beautiful robes durable. These masterfully tailored Christian dresses may become family heirlooms, to be used generation after generation.

We have not forgotten the adults either. Ask about our collection of baptism gowns for adults.

We also offer hand embroidery service (not including in the price of a dress) and will embroider the name of the child and date of birth if you want to start a family tradition with one of our christening robes.

“For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have(AY) put on Christ.”

(Gal 3:27)

Textiles and liturgical vestments

We produce church textiles and liturgical vestments for clergy made-to-order and made-to-measure as unique small series or even as single pieces. Planning textiles for church interiors usually begins with an existent architectonic space in the form of a church hall or cemetery chapel, with their interior designs and other works of art, and the customer’s wishes and desires.

Church paraments form a unique whole through the choice of colours, symbolic systems, materials and technical solutions available. It is important to remember that Church textiles and vestments have many roles. They are practical objects whose value lies in use and convenience as well as in their aesthetic impact; their most salient quality is the inner spirit, with which they communicate the religious message.  In the design process for clothing and textiles we have to highlight qualities such as how wearable, comfortable, breathable, washable and durable a garment is. The composition and scope of a set of liturgical vestments and liturgical textiles depends on the needs a parish has with regard to the liturgical seasons.

To a designer, church textiles are the most demanding, yet at the same time most interesting challenge. The function of the textiles is to support ceremonies and be part of a ritual. They must convey a harmonious whole in the Church service and communicate through all the senses in complex processes and resonate with individuals’ thoughts. Gathered together in a service, a congregation takes part and receives a message that is conveyed to their inner experience through hearing, reasoning, and seeing. Textiles also transmit metaphorical meanings and illustrate biblical texts. Church paraments help those attending services to contemplate in the sight of God. The colours, texture and symbols of textiles are a means of religious expression. Colour can be highly expressive and reflective of mood and meaning, and coloured vestments and hangings have been among the most prominent symbols used in many churches. They are easily "read" by ordinary worshippers when moving to a new parish or when visiting other churches.  It helps to establish a setting for worship that supports a common sense of meaning and does not distract from the focal activity.

We specialise in liturgical vestments and church textiles in sacred interiors. Hand-woven fabrics featuring a rich colour palette, quality fibres, custom-tailored vestments and embroidery offer beautiful variations of the standards. We look forward to working closely with congregations in developing particular church textiles and vestments that will enhance the beauty, dignity and celebration of the liturgy.

All designs and works of religious textiles and vestments are original and unique.


Vestes sacrae

For Evangelical Lutheran and Anglican communities

Orarium-collection, cotton Christening gown with high-quality guipure-lace
Orarium-collection, pure cotton Christening bonnet in guipure-lace
Orarium-collection, Christening gown in silk. Pleated stripes in bodice and in sleeves
Orarium-collection, Christening gown in silk. Detailphoto from pleated bodice
Orarium-collection, Christening gowns, Guipure-lace shoes, cotton.
Orarium-collection, Christening gown in cotton. Detailphoto from guipure-lace
Orarium-collection, Christening gown in net-based lace. Bruxelles lace with floral and butterfly decoration.
Orarium-collection, Christening gown in net-based lace. Bruxelles lace with floral and butterfly decoration.
Orarium-collection, Christening gown, detailphoto from hand embroidered cross
rarim-collection Christening bonnet in Bruxelles lace
Orarium-collection, Christening gown in cotton/linen blending. In bodice there is a hand embroidered cross.