Color is everywhere. From the deep greens of a forest to the bright plumage of a tropical bird, God created the world with color to give pleasure to those who are fortunate enough to live in it. In nature, colors change with the season. They’re vibrant and full of life in the summer, but more muted and reserved in the winter. Like the colors in nature, liturgical colors used in the context of Christian liturgy also change with the season. They are used to represent a mood associated with a particular liturgical season or to underscore an important event or ceremony that is taking place.
There are six common liturgical colors that are used in Christian churches. These colors are white, red, green, violet, rose and black. Each color has a different meaning and a different prescribed use. The colors may be incorporated into banners, church decor and even the clergy’s dress. A liturgical colors calendar can be used to keep track of when seasonal color changes take place.
White is said to represent light, innocence, purity, joy, triumph and glory. It is the color commonly used during Easter, Christmas and Feasts of the Lord. The pure color is also used for Feasts of Mary, angels and other saints who were not martyrs. It is often favored during wedding ceremonies and funerals for children. White is also the traditional color worn by Popes for everyday use. White can be replaced by silver in some instances.
Red is the color of blood. It represents the Passion, blood, fire, Gold’s love and martyrdom. It is the standard color worn by cardinals and is also used during specific events throughout the year including Feasts of the Lord’s Passion, Blood and Cross. It is worn on Palm Sunday and during the Pentecost as well. Red is traditionally worn during all feasts of martyrs as it represents their blood.
Green represents the Holy Ghost, life eternal and hope. It is the standard color worn when there are no other seasons or events to be celebrated. It is usually worn during the time after Epiphany and during the time after Pentecost. Green vestments are not associated with a particular ranking of clergy.
Violet is the liturgical color associated with patience, humility and melancholy. It is worn during the Season of Advent, the Season of Septuagesima, the Season of Lent, the Rogation Days, Ember Days and on Good Friday. It can be worn during vigils, except during Ascension and the Pentecost. Sometimes referred to as amaranth red, violet is also the color of Bishops’, Archbishops’ and Patriarchs’.
Black is the traditional color worn during mourning. It is worn by the priest during Masses for the dead with the exception of baptized children who have died before the age of reason. It is also worn on All Souls Day in observance of the event.
Rose represents joy. It is the liturgical color worn on Gaudete Sunday, which is the third Sunday of Advent, as well as Laetare Sunday, which is the fourth Sunday of Lent. The pink hue does not represent a particular rank of church member and is sometimes not represented in a standard rotation of liturgical colors.
In addition to the standard liturgical colors listed above, other colors may also be used for special applications throughout the year. Gold can be worn when no other liturgical color is specified. Light blue is the color of choice during the Feast of Archangels. Orange is a less common liturgical color and is worn by clergy in the Russian Orthodox Church during the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Silver is sometimes substituted for white, particularly in vestments and various churches may have additional days during which certain colors are worn.
Knowing the liturgical colors and what each one represents can help ensure that you’re always dressed appropriately for the season. Whether you’re looking for the liturgical colors for Lent or the liturgical colors for Advent, Matthew F. Sheehan can help make sure that you’re always dressed appropriately for whatever comes your way. We carry a large selection of vestments and church accessories to choose from in all of the classic liturgical colors. Order a black clergy shirt, a white cope or some other vestment in the liturgical color of your choosing to celebrate your faith in style and accordance to canon law.
Matthew F. Sheehan is your source for high-quality vestments in a full array of liturgical colors. Shop online and find your favorite styles in the colors you need. Not sure where to begin? Our friendly customer service team would be more than happy to point you in the right direction. For help, please call us toll free at 1-866-674-2500, and we’ll be happy to help. Matthew F. Sheehan has been a leader in the church goods industry since 1907 and continues to offer high-quality goods and apparel at low prices. Shop today to find the items you need in the appropriate liturgical colors to suit the season.