Liturgical Colors

Throughout the year, depending on the liturgical season and type of liturgical feast or celebration, the Catholic Church uses different colors for the priest’s vestments, as well as altar linens and other decorations in the church.

Green is the color most often used color during Ordinary Time, symbolizing the gift of life and hope in every day. Green indicates how Catholics should continually grow in their faith, reflecting on Jesus’ entire public ministry, not just on the extraordinary events.

Representing joy, purity, and glory, white is used in the Church’s biggest celebrations of Christmas and Easter, along with other feast days of Jesus, except those of his Passion and Death. White is also used on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels, and the saints who were not martyred. White is also the color used in the Sacraments of Matrimony and Baptism.

The color of blood, red is used on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. It is also used on the feasts of martyrs, including all of the Apostles except St. John. Red also symbolizes the fire of the Holy Spirit and is used on Pentecost Sunday and when celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Violet contributes to the solemn preparation associated with the seasons of Advent and Lent, as Catholics wait for the celebrations of Christmas and Easter. Calling to mind penance, violet may be used in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Associated with mourning, violet may also be used during funeral Masses.

Representing joy to come, the color rose may be used on Gaudete Sunday during Advent and Laetare Sunday in Lent. Seeing the color rose indicates that those penitential seasons are coming to an end and that the celebrations of Christmas and Easter are coming closer.

A color of death and sadness, black may be seen on All Souls Day or at Catholic funeral Masses, although it is more common to see white which shifts the focus on the victory and hope of the Resurrection.

Catholics may also see the color gold at the most solemn feasts as it can replace any of the other liturgical colors except for violet and black.

By special permission only in Portugal, Spain and certain other countries, blue may be used for feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Colors that aid Catholics in prayer:

St Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church Fernley

Reminding us of what we are doing:

Ascension Church

You shall make a veil woven of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined, with cherubim embroidered on it. It is to be hung on four gold-plated columns of acacia wood, which shall have gold hooks and shall rest on four silver pedestals.

Exodus 26: 31-32

Colors that help paint the living story of faith:


Creating harmony with the Church’s calendar:

Christ in the Community

Equally important for a correct ars celebrandi is an attentiveness to the various kinds of language that the liturgy employs: words and music, gestures and silence, movement, the liturgical colors of the vestments. By its very nature the liturgy operates on different levels of communication which enable it to engage the whole human person. The simplicity of its gestures and the sobriety of its orderly sequence of signs communicate and inspire more than any contrived and inappropriate additions. Attentiveness and fidelity to the specific structure of the rite express both a recognition of the nature of Eucharist as a gift and, on the part of the minister, a docile openness to receiving this ineffable gift.

Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 22 February 2007

The priest’s vestments are a hint about the theme of the Mass:

Risen Christ Catholic Parish Denver

Colors that signify the time of the Church year:

St. Michael Sioux Falls

Different colors for different times and seasons:

Waterford & Lismore Diocese

Signs of the human world. In human life, signs and symbols occupy an important place. As a being at once body and spirit, man expresses and perceives spiritual realities through physical signs and symbols. As a social being, man needs signs and symbols to communicate with others, through language, gestures, and actions. The same holds true for his relationship with God.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1146

The use of liturgical colors developed organically:

Marvels of Christendom

Eastern Catholic Churches use liturgical colors differently:

Dormition Parish Saskatoon

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

A different Catholic liturgy, theology, and spirituality:


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