“Real priests wear rosacea!”, or “What color is liturgical rose?” – Fr. Z explains

Yesterday I was delighted both to attend a Mass with rose vestments (though they were sorta pink) and to use true rosacea.

I am in good company in not wanting to wear pink, or confuse it with liturgical rose, or rosacea in Latin.

"But Father! But Father!", some of you are even now wildly typing.  "Surely you don’t wear pink, do you?"

Nope, dear readers.  Fr. Z does not wear pink vestments, unless he must sacrifice for the greater good.  Sure, for the sake of distinguishing Gaudete from other Advent Sundays, I have consented to putting on a pinkish vestment when I didn’t have a good clear choice.  The good outweighs the bad, in those cases.

However, liturgical rose really is a color.  And real priests always choose rosacea for Gaudete and Laetare.

"But Father! But Father!", some of you saying with furrowed brows.  "If rose isn’t pink, then what is it?"

Here are a couple examples of what this color is.  Keep in mind that on my monitor they look just right.  On your monitor, they might not be the same.  That said,…

Here is a vestment I shot last year in Rome in the sacristy of Gesu e Maria on the Via del Corso.  It is too spectacular for words.  Click on it to get a close up so you can see the color better.

However, the chapel of The Sabine Farm has a very nice, and very old set of rosacea vestments I brought back from Rome.  They were given to me by a ultra-modernist who was getting rid of old stuff.  

Here they are.

And closer.  You can see the little Roman style pom pom on the corner of the burse.

Notice that rosacea, in both the versions I show here, are a little more on the orange side of pink, closer to the pink that is like salmon.

And now you will have a more discerning Catholic eye when Laetare rolls around.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmom says:

    Wow, are those fantastic vestments made in Italy or the Far East?

  2. Fr. Paul McDonald says:

    Hello, Father.

    I never knew what the real colour was, and now I do. I was sure it couldn’t be hot pink, anyway. So when I have a set made, it was “dusty rose”.
    Thanks for this precision.

  3. Fr. McDonald: Please send a photo!

    It would be nice to get some shots of good rose vestments.

  4. It looks like mauve. :)

  5. Michael: Then you need an eye exam.

  6. Matthew Mattingly says:

    I think the rosacea vestments are beautiful. I once saw a set of vestments worn by a priest on TV last year. The color was almost a light shade of violet, but not really. You could see the rosy hue especially when the sun shone on it.
    The woman who was the commentator said it was an old fashioned (almost Victorian shade which is almost never worn or used these days either liturgically or anything else), called “ashes of roses”, or alternatively, “old rose”

    It was distinctly rosy, but not garishly pink. It was Roman “fiddleback” in the Baroque style, but not as elaboratly embroidered as one photo here.
    We have a convent of “Pink Sisters” here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and their habit color is also described as “rose”.
    I don’t think a priest should mind wearing a chasuble in that color. But any lighter, it would be pink…and look rather peculiar on a priest.

    ** Maybe it would be poor taste for liturgical colors, but I thought the canary yellow lining of one set of vestments would make a beautiful color for vestments itself (with the proper ornamentation of course).

  7. Christian says:

    Puis XII seriously considered changing the colour of Advent to rose to distinguish it more from Lent.

  8. The deacon here at the Cathedral in Cincinnati has a set of rose vestments made by the Sisters of the Precious Blood back in the 1950’s. They have the more salmon color which you describe than some of the others I have seen (including my own personal one!) I’ll try to post pics at some point on my blog, if I ever get a chance!

  9. Papabile says:

    What really annoyed me yesterday was our Parish Priest processing down the aisle in violet. Screaming REJOICE at the top of his lungs, and them explaining to us the significance of the “pink” candle on the advent wreath, but then saying: “Real men don’t wear pink.”

  10. Jeff says:

    I have a little catch phase that picks up on a old movie style to explain that the vestments are rose rather that pink (although some examples I have seen are indeed pink). “Father is not ‘pretty in pink,’ he is ‘resplendid in rose.”

  11. dcs says:

    And now you will have a more discerning Catholic eye when Laetare rolls around.

    I’ll be sure to let my pastor know that Fr. Z says he is wearing the wrong color! ;-)

  12. Fr. Anthony Forte says:

    But where can you get vestments in the proper color? All the sources I know use pink.

  13. Last winter I was in Rome and I bought a partial set (two pieces) of Rose vestments – I will try to get pictures. I think “salmon” best describes this set. Parishioners have commented that the color is definitely NOT pink. It is otherwise very simple with St. Andrew’s cross in a rose/gold galloon. I will have to go back and ask if they can complete the set. Fr. Z, how do you say “maniple, burse, and veil” in Italian?

  14. Hung Doan says:

    How very proper! I must comment though that on your examples there was a sense of floral imagery. It must be my bias, as we are talking about “rose” and “rosacea” and all, but…I don’t think I’m the only person! The embroidery on your examples are fantastic, and to think you got a set from an ultra-modernist trying to rid his chapel of these hidden gems. So, the ultra modernists do help out, sorta…

  15. Geoffrey says:

    The celebrant at Mass yesterday wore violet vestments. He announced that he does not “wear pink”. If memory serves, the vestments that the parish has are of the rather bright pink variety! I used to think “rose” was the proper term for the liturgical colour, but now I know there is a real difference! I’ll bet if more priests knew this little bit of information, they’d prefer to wear rose!

  16. William says:

    What’s the problem with wearing pink or rose or whatever you want to call it? I simply don’t understand why anyone would make a fuss about it.

    The priest at the Mass I attended Sunday was wearing a nice rose/pink gothic chasuble and then said “I don’t like wearing pink stuff” at the beginning of Mass. After Mass I told him I thought the vestments looked nice.

  17. Chris says:

    Why does everyone hate pink? There is nothing wrong with it anyway. Rose and pink are pretty much the dame and everyone knows that. Pink is a fine colour and I don’t like this hijacking of it by ‘girlie-men’.

    When I was at school the oldest and grandest House (over 400 years old) had the unique privilege of using pink as their colour in sports matches. This was because pink was considered the smartest colour when the House colours where allocated in the nineteenth century.


  18. Matthew Mattingly says:

    The vestments from the Westminster Cathedral look rose to me, not pink.
    Pink is a shade much lighter than this.

  19. Legisperitus says:


    Was that a Freudian slip (“pretty much the dame”)?

    : )

  20. dcs says:

    The Luzar vestments shown on their homepage — these I would describe as “rose”. I don’t know if it’s a trick of the light, the camera, or my monitor, but the ones Fr. Z. has highlighted look orange to me, not rose or pink or even salmon.

  21. John Adams says:

    Will Franco Zeffirelli get to pick the color in future?

  22. ALL: If you or your priest doesn’t like the color of the rose vestments (or any others), then stick a crow bar into your wallets and get better vestments for the parish.

  23. Timothy Clint says:

    I have always heard it said that the color of Advent is a more red violet where as the Lenten color is a darker more penitential purple and of course the Gaudete Rose is not pink but a muted rose color. Just for the record, the priest at the Latin Mass in Erie chose to wear purple with a non matching chalice veil and no burse for Gaudete Sunday.

  24. Derik Castillo says:

    Dear Fr. Z.

    Thanks for the picutres. It is a little hard
    for colorblind people like me to tell the
    difference between what the celebrant at my
    parish wore last Sunday in comparison to the
    roman standard for rosacea.

    Perhaps if someone can provide the translation
    of rosacea in terms of RGB, CMYK or Pantone
    color guides.

    A guy with Protanopia

  25. Derik Castillo says:

    Nevermind, I found the way to translate
    colors into numbers.

    This seems to be between
    R=190, G=47, B=47
    R=191, G=93, B=117,
    depending where the measurement is taken.
    There are other nuances like hue, saturation
    and brightness, but I guess this is enough.

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