For those of you that are not among the churchgoing lot, you might find it interesting to learn that there is a great deal of color symbolism involved in the fitment of preacher robes.
Color is assigned meaning not only with respect to the liturgical calendar but also to the ceremony or occasion.
These are the most commonly encountered colors in liturgical garments.
Black is the most common color associated with pulpit robes and other clergy attire. This is due in part to the fact that priests were traditionally called to be cognizant of their secular duties as well as their divine.
This is why most clergy shirts and cassocks are still black, even today. The color is also used as a symbol of mourning in funerary ceremonies as a show of mourning.
White symbolizes purity, innocence, charity, hope, and the unbesmirched ideal of divine love. White can also be used to celebrate glory or power. For this reason, white robes are sometimes worn to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Some priests also wear white robes on momentous holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, and wedding masses.
White is also appropriate in some situations for funeral ceremonies, except in these instances, the color white is chosen to celebrate the life of the person, and not as a symbol of mourning.
Red, the color of passion, fire, and blood, is often worn on feasts days in honor of saints that have been martyred. For some clerics, it is also customary to wear red preacher robes for Palm Sunday and the Pentecost Mass – in memory of the tongues of fire that visited the Apostles. Red is also sometimes worn in observation of Good Friday.
Some offices within the church also wear red clergy robes as a special designation. For instance, Cardinals wear red and Bishops often wear red or purple robes.
Green is a color that is worn during “Ordinary Time” in the Catholic Church, or a time that does not fall within the Eastertide and Christmastide seasons.
Green is also worn as a symbol of growth or hope.
Purple is the color of penitence and repentance. Consequently, purple robes are commonly worn during Lent and Advent. The color purple can also be worn during other ceremonies of repentance, such as Good Friday.
Purple can also be seen as a color of mourning, and for that reason sometimes priests engaged in funeral ceremonies wear purple – instead of black or white.
Purple is also used to officiate specific titles in the Church; Bishops and Senior Bishops often wear purple.
Blue is rarely worn but when it is, the reason is typically to observe and honor the Feast of Mary.
Since blue is also a classically royal color, some priests may wear blue preacher robes to celebrate glory.
Gold is also a color of royalty, opulence, wealth, glory, and power. Therefore it is often worn in situations in which white may also be worn. In fact, they are often worn together – as white and gold robes.
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