History and Culture

Different Seasons, Different Hues: The 7 Colors of the Church

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Meyn Stay
Meyn Stay | Mar 30, 2015

Much like winter, spring, summer, and fall, the various seasons celebrated and commemorated by the Catholic Church is distinguished by specific colors. We see them all the time on priests and on the interiors of churches.

Here's a rundown of the liturgical colors and what each correspond to:

 

1. White

Stands for innocence, purity, joy, triumph, and glory. We see this color during Christmas, Easter, All Saints' Day, Feasts of the Apostles, Feasts of the Lord (other than of His passion), Feasts of Mary, the angels, and saints who were not martyrs; and nuptials. We also see it during Masses for the Dead [Requiem Masses], which happens when the deceased is a baptized child who died before the age of reason. White is the color of the pope's non-liturgical dress.

The color white can also be replaced by silver.

We also like to believe that the phrase "White Christmas" stood for this color. Other than snow, of course. 

white 2

 

2. Red

This color signifies passion, blood, fire, God's love, and Jesus' martyrdom. It is usually worn on the Feast of the Lord's Passion, Blood, and Cross; Palm Sunday, Pentecost and when the Sacrament of Confirmation is performed.

 

3. Green

The color of the Holy Spirit, life, eternal, and hope, this is usually worn by the priest on Sundays of Ordinary Time. 

 

4. Violet

You see this color on Sundays of Advent and Lent; and whenever the priest performs the Sacraments of Reconciliation and of the Sick. 

 

5. Rose

A priest can wear this color optionally on Gaudete Sunday [3rd Sunday of Advent] and Laetare Sunday [4th Sunday of Lent].

rose

 

6. Black

This is sometimes worn on All Souls' Day and Masses for the Dead.

black

 

7. Gold

This is interchangeable with the liturgical colors green, red, or white only.

gold

 

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