Why do we do that? Catholic Life Explained

June 17, 2021

Question: What do the colors of the priest’s and deacon’s vestments mean?

Answer: In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, the colors of the vestments evolved over the course of several centuries and there was wide variation both in the colors used, and in the feasts and seasons associated with particular colors. It was Pope Innocent III (d. 1216) who gave us the basic outline that was later prescribed by Pope Saint Pius V in 1570. The various colors remind us of the dominant themes of a particular season or celebration.

  • White: Used for the seasons of Christmas and Easter and in celebrations of the Lord, of Mary, the angels, and saints who were not martyrs. This color is also used in Masses for the dead, at baptisms, weddings and other festive celebrations.
  • Red: As the color of both blood and fire, red is used on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, as well as Pentecost and special celebrations of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, red is used on the feasts and memorials of the Apostles and those saints who died as martyrs.
  • Violet: The color for Advent and Lent. Violet may also be used in Masses for the dead and on All Souls Day (November 2).
  • Green: A color of life and hope, green is used throughout Ordinary Time.

Other colors: Rose may be used on the Third Sunday of Advent and the Fourth Sunday of Lent, black may be used in Masses of the dead and on All Souls Day, gold or silver may be used on solemn occasions in place of white, red, or green.