The Liturgical Year, also known as the Year of Grace or The Religious Year, refers to the seasons throughout the calendar year as observed by the Christian churches. These seasons are the commemorations of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are often depicted by the adornment of different colors, which are indicative of the different periods of the Liturgical calendar. These colors are most notably associated with catholic priests and their liturgical vestments. On Sundays and during eulogies, catholic priests will be adorned investments of different colors that are indicative of what religious celebrations are taking place at the time. Aside from times of mourning, priests will follow the strict Liturgical calendar and wear the colored vestments as expected of them. In this blog, you will know What is the Liturgical Year and why are there different colors donned throughout it.
Green – If a priest is wearing a green colored vestment, it is a sign that these are ‘ordinary times. ‘Ordinary times’ refers to the periods of the year other than Christmas or Easter celebrations. This is still an important time of the Liturgical Year but is considered ‘ordinary’ as it takes up so much of the calendar year and celebrates no specific occasion. Green is worn to represent hope and the anticipation in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is a compromission color between red, white, and black. It is traditionally symbolic of the hope and life associated with each new waking day.
White and gold – White and gold vestments are typically worn for Christmas and Easter. They are worn to symbolize the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ but are also worn in celebration of the deceased. Clergymen often perform eulogies and funeral ceremonies in these robes to show celebration of the life, rather than the death, of the deceased. The Pope’s standard robes are also white to show his place as the closest liaison of the almighty God.
Purple or violet – purple or violet robes are worn during Advent and Lent and are representational of penance, preparation, and sacrifice. They are also, at times, worn at funerals because purple symbolizes dignity and elegance. Worn by the clergymen at funerals, purple robes are used to remind the funeral-goers and mourners to pray for the penance and absolution of the deceased.
Red – Symbolic of both passion and blood, red is the color worn during the feasts of the martyrs as well as Good Friday, Palm Sunday, and the Pentecost. Red is also used to recall the fiery tongues that descended on the Apostles when they received the holy spirit and is therefore symbolic of their sufferings and death. In turn, it is worn by The Cardinals to symbolize their devotion to the church and to The Pope. Being the vibrant color of blood, red is worn by them to symbolize the blood that they would shed for Christ and the church. Red is also the color worn by children during ‘Confirmation’ to symbolize their own passion for Christ and the church.
Rose – Worn just twice during the Liturgical Year, Rose vestments are worn to show anticipated joy and to represent the love in Christ. They are worn on the third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent and are donned to remind Catholics of the joy in both penance and worship. The color ‘rose’ is really a beckoning to rejoice as the season of penance begins to close the celebration of Christ’s resurrection begins.
Blue – The blue vestment is worn by the clergymen the least of all vestments throughout the Liturgical Year. It is worn merely once a year at the Feast of Mary which takes place on January 1st and is used to celebrate Mary’s motherhood of Jesus Christ. ‘The Feast of Mary’ is a reminder of her, and motherhood’s, involvement in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the salvation of humankind.
Black – A black vestment is the most adorned by catholic priests and is worn at funerals. ‘Black’ is of course the traditional color worn when mourning and is a modest choice that is traditionally symbolic of death. In the Liturgical Year, it is worn on Good Friday in mourning of Jesus Christ. As well as symbolizing death, black can often be symbolic of sin, which often results in death.
How did the Liturgical colors come about?
Throughout history, the Roman Catholic Church has been known to wear many different colored vestments at a variety of times. However, the modern liturgical color sequence we use today was first outlined in Pope Innocent III’s treatise ‘De sacro altaris mysterio’. The colors are based upon the interpretations of both colors and flowers mentioned in Scripture, especially in the Song of Solomon which is a lengthy lyrical poem that takes place between a young maiden and her lover. It wasn’t until the late Middle Ages that other colors such as blue were incorporated into the Liturgical calendar and it was Pope Pius V in 1570 that introduced rose on the two Sundays.