The 11.5-inch-tall fictional graduate of Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif., has donned a cassock and surplice and is rector at St. Barbara’s-by-the-Sea in (where else?) Malibu, Calif.
She arrived at the church fully accessorized, as is Barbie’s custom.
Her impeccably tailored ecclesiastical vestments include various colored chasubles (the sleeveless vestments worn at Mass) for every liturgical season, black clergy shirt with white collar, neat skirt and heels, a laptop with prepared sermon and a miniature, genuine Bible.
Apparently a devotee of the “smells and bells” of High Church tradition, the Rev. Barbie even has a tiny thurible, a metal vessel used for sending clouds of incense wafting toward heaven.
The Rev. Barbie, who in less than a week had drawn nearly 3,000 friends on her Facebook page, spends most of her time in the office of the Rev. Dena Cleaver-Bartholomew, rector of Christ (Episcopal) Church, in Manlius, N.Y., near Syracuse.
The doll, her wardrobe and portable sacristy were a gift from Cleaver-Bartholomew’s friend, the Rev. Julie Blake Fisher, a priest in Kent, Ohio.
Barbie’s clergy garb is the real deal, made from dress patterns that were crafted or adapted by Fisher. Barbie’s collared blouse was cut down from the fabric of a genuine clergy shirt; the chasubles and alb are made from real silk and linens.
Her capa nigra (black funeral cloak) sports pewter buttons. Her nearly complete Bible was originally sold as a keychain. The thurible was crafted from a teeny tea ball.
Fisher has found a calling of her own: She responded that her next project will be Episcopal Priest Barbie: Cathedral Edition. She promises an African-American Bishop Barbie, a Hispanic Ken doll who will be cathedral dean (rector) and his African-American friend, Stephen, will be a deacon. Barbie’s little sister, Kelly, will be an acolyte.
“Barbie’s very versatile that way,” said Cleaver-Bartholomew. “She’s open to new possibilities, so evangelism is definitely in her future.”