The Meaning of Colours in Catholic Liturgy

The liturgical colours are basically four: white, red, green and purple. Besides these, there are four others that are optional and can be used in special circumstances.

Newsroom (December 8, 2021, 10:35 AM, Gaudium Press) The Liturgy of the Catholic Church is full of stories and symbolism. Every detail has a reason for being. Nothing is there by chance. This can be seen in the colours of the sacred vestments, which vary according to the liturgical season and the daily commemorations of the Saints of each day.

According to the General Introduction of the Roman Missal (IGMR), at number 345, the diversity of colours of the sacred vestments is intended to express outwardly, more effectively, on the one hand, the peculiar character of the mysteries of faith that are being celebrated; on the other, the progressive sense of Christian life throughout the Liturgical Year.

The colours of the Catholic liturgy

The liturgical colours are basically four: white, red, green and purple. Besides these, there are four other colours that are optional and can be used in special circumstances. They are: gold, pink, blue and black.

Meaning of the colour white

The colour white symbolizes purity. It is used during the liturgical seasons of Christmas and Easter, as well as in the commemorations of Our Lord Jesus Christ (except those of the Passion), Our Lady, the Angels, and the non-martyr Saints.

Meaning of red

The colour red symbolizes blood and the fire of charity. It is used on Palm Sunday, in the celebrations of the Lord’s Passion, Good Friday, Pentecost Sunday, the feasts of the Apostles and Evangelists, and the celebrations of the Holy Martyrs.

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Meaning of the colour green

The colour green symbolizes hope. It is used most of the year in a liturgical period called Ordinary Time.

Meaning of the colour purple

Purple symbolizes penitence. It is usually used in the times of Advent and Lent. It can also be used in the Services and Masses for the dead.

Meaning of the colour pink

Pink symbolizes joy. It is used on two occasions, corresponding to two interstices of joy in times of contrition: on the 3rd Sunday of Advent and the 4th Sunday of Lent.

Meaning of gold

Gold is considered the colour of solemnities and major liturgical feasts, such as Easter, Christmas, and ordinations. On these occasions, the priest may use this colour in place of white, red or green.

Meaning of blue

The colour blue may be used in the liturgy during the Feasts and Solemnities of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Meaning of black

Black symbolizes death. It is normally used in Masses for the faithful departed, however, on these occasions, the celebrant may also use purple. (EPC)

Compiled by Zephania Gangl

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