Red, green, purple… What do the colors of the priests’ vestments mean?

in the Church nothing is coincidence and much less in the celebration of the Eucharist. When we attend Holy Mass it is common to realize that the priest does not always wear the same chasuble. In fact, what varies mainly is the color this.

The criteria for choosing the color of clothing does not follow aesthetic canons, but rather goes much further and has a liturgical meaning. The colors used by the priests during the Liturgy are green, red, purple, white, blue and pink.

Green Color: Ordinary Time

Pope Francis, dressed in the green chasuble corresponding to Ordinary Time

Green is the most common color worn by the priest for the celebration of Holy Mass. It is intimately associated with the hope, to life, to nature. This color is used for what is known as Ordinary Time, that is, the days that do not correspond to Lent, Advent, Easter or Christmas. In addition, the priest will not wear this chasuble during the feasts of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary or the martyrs.

Purple color: preparation time

Pope Francis, with purple chasuble

When the priest wears a purple chasuble it means that we are in moments of preparation, of waiting, of penance, to prepare the heart to celebrate something great. The purple color is closely linked to spirituality and that is why it invites the faithful to prayer and recollection. Also, purple is the color to identify bishops. The priests officiate mass with the purple chasuble in the times of lent –preparation for Easter– and Advent –preparing for Christmas–

red color: passion

Pope Francis, during the celebration of the day of Pentecost

The red color is par excellence the symbol of passion, but it is also related to blood, fire and love. The priest dresses in this color on various occasions:

  • Celebrations of the Holy Spirit: The Paraclete presented himself to the apostles as a flame of fire above their heads, which is why the priest adorns himself with the red chasuble on the feast of Pentecost and other celebrations of the Holy Spirit.
  • Commemoration of the martyrs: On days when the death of a martyr is celebrated in the Church, the priest must wear the red chasuble. This is because the martyrs gave their lives and shed their blood for God.
  • Holy Friday: On this day –despite the fact that Holy Mass is not celebrated– the priest must wear the red chasuble for the services, in honor of the death of Jesus Christ for all of us.

White color: celebration

Pope Francis, with white chasuble

The white color represents purity, cleanliness, innocence, neatness, peace. It is a color that in ecclesiastical and liturgical language means celebration. The priest wears this chasuble when a great festival is celebrated in the Church, as is the case of the Christmas –we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ–, the Easter – it is the biggest celebration of the Church, since it remembers that God rose and saved us – or the memorial of some saint.

Blue color: linked to Spain

Pope Benedict XVI, during the celebration of the Immaculate Conception

Although Spain is associated with the color red, it is blue that has a very special meaning for the Spanish faithful. It is the color of the Virgin Mary. The blue chasuble only leaves the Sacristy on December 8, celebration of the Immaculate Conception. Besides, it’s a concession exclusive for Hispanic peoples which was granted in the 19th century thanks to the devotion of Hispanics to the Virgin.

Pink color: joy

Pope Benedict XVI wearing the pink chasuble

This color is based on the fusion between purple and white. It represents generosity, joy, love. The priests wear the chasubles of this color two days a year: the Third Sunday of Advent -called Gaudete– and the Fourth Sunday of Lent –known as laetare–. The use of this color symbolizes a relaxation of penitential rigor and reminds us that Lent and Advent are times of prayer, but without forgetting the holidays that are going to be celebrated.

Red, green, purple… What do the colors of the priests’ vestments mean?