In Summary

GET TO KNOW. Did you know the different meanings of the different colours of vestments in the Catholic church? ANDREW KAGGWA finds out.

If there is one thing that has given the Catholic church an identity, it could be the vestments worn by those leading liturgy; those worn by altar boys, a deacon or a catechist have always differed from those of a celebrant, especially if they are a priest.

The vestments of a priest are different from those of altar boys or deacons in some ways.
What maybe constant with all the vestments though, could be the colour.

If the altar boys or the general clothing on the altar are spotting some green on them, there are possibilities of having the main celebrant in a green vestments too.

But these vestments have a connotation behind them, some are won on special days while others are meant to represent a specific season in the liturgical year.

There is a time to wear red, green, white and purple, of course in some countries, there is even a black vestment.
The Catholic Church having a universal arrangement, colour plays a big role in a mass celebration as it helps the faithful know which season or what exactly is being celebrated.

The Catholic Church’s liturgical year consists of seasons; the seasons usually determine celebrations which most of the times influences preaching, prayers and, the colour of vestments.

However, much as each season has a vestment colour attached to it, not all colours do represent a season. Some are one off feast days and celebrations that show up during other liturgical seasons.

Green
Green is the colour worn in the ordinary time or weeks that do not belong to a proper season. According to catholicculture.com, there are two periods of ordinary time, the first is a day after the Feast of Christ’s Baptism and ends a day before Ash Wednesday.
Going by this year’s calendar, ordinary time and green vestments for priests must have started on January 14, and ended on Tuesday March 5, the eve of the ashes.

The second period of ordinary time starts on the Pentecost Monday to the first Sunday of Advent, which this year will be June 10.
However, since Pope Francis in 2018 decreed that a day dedicated to Mary Mother of the Church should be included in the Catholic Church calendar on the Monday after Pentecost, priests on this day will be dressed in white other than green.

White and gold
White and gold vestments have been associated with rejoicing. These vestments are commonly worn on Christmas, Easter and feast days of Mary’s accession and solemnity of Joseph, among others. White is also common on celebration of saints that were not martyred. Because of its connection with resurrection and glory, today some people have demanded white to be worn as masses praying for their dead are celebrated.

Red
Red on the other hand is common on feast days and celebration of saints that were martyred. Red vestments introduce the holy week with Palm Sunday because Jesus was entering Jerusalem and basically preparing for his death, Good Friday and all other mass celebrations in relation with the Passion of Christ are celebrated in red.
The colour also signifies God’s love and thus the reason it is worn on Pentecost.

Purple/violet
Lent is one of the most observed seasons among Catholics and non-Catholic Christians. It is a 40-day period that follows Ash Wednesday and ends on the Thursday before Easter Sunday.
As Pilate was demeaning Jesus, it has been widely shown that he placed a purple cloth while declaring him the ‘King of Jews’ because among the Romans, purple was a colour of royalty.

Priests and liturgical cloth during the season is purple besides the fourth Sunday of the season where rose, a colour so close to purple is worn and later the annunciation solemnity on March 25, and Palm Sunday where white and red are worn respectively. These vestments are worn during lent, advent and vigils and requiem masses.