A Gaudete question revisited: “Real priests wear ‘rosacea'”!

Today priests can wear "rose" vestments.  Everyone knows this.

But I do get questions about what shade of "rose" this is.  What does "rose" mean?

Today I said Mass with rose vestments 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. 

I am comfortable with myself, after all.

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 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 (that is I have) 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 Gaudete and Laetare roll around.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Haha! Excellent entry ;-) At High Mass this morning, Father also wore “rosacea” vestments. Very beautiful – I’ve never seen a priest wear them before, as the liturgical color is used but twice a year…and as many priests choose not to wear them. Thanks for posting – and for wearing those vestments! The pictures are extraordinary (kinda like the Mass, yes?)

  2. layman says:

    I always thought there was no “rose”, but light violet and for that you can say rose. But it seem liturgically correct to speak of (light) violet instead of rose. The main idea is to brighten the violet for the specific character of the Gaudete and Laetare sunday. Sorry if I am wrong. [Nope there is a liturgical color ROSE, or rosacea.]

  3. Ray from MN says:

    The Church doesn’t seem to have an official standard for its colors.

    I think there is more of a problem for vestment firms distinguishing between violet and purple. Both colors seem to be used during Lent and Advent, but often the purple is mighty close to “red.” I believe violet is what is intended.

  4. Alessandro says:

    FR!! I used exactly the same color: a chasuble of the XVIII sec. of Archiconfraternitas Sancti Antonii. I will try to post a pic: the people told me it was “orangish rose” “rosa tendente all’arancione”.

  5. Alessandro: That’s the ticket!

  6. Yes, it does look like salmon with a bit more red to it. It doesn’t really look like pink at all. Quite striking!

  7. Mark S. says:

    I also witnessed rosacea vestments at Mass this morning. Very impressive, pity they’re only seen twice a year. And they’re not PINK! (Although I think anybody who would infer anything untoward from this liturgical colour has a VERY adolescent mind!)

  8. Michele Q. says:

    Ah, interesting. Now I know why last night’s TLM vestments looked more orange than pink. Definitely more of a salmon color.

  9. Dr. Eric says:

    Wikipedia says:

    “Rose is the color halfway between red and magenta on the HSV color wheel, on which it is at hue angle of 330 degrees.

    Rose has 67% red (two thirds) and 33% blue (one third). It is a tertiary color on the HSV color wheel. The complementary color of rose is spring green.”


    Rose, indeed is a real color, and it is not pink!

  10. Tyler says:

    I don’t know if its the lighting or what, but the Burse, maniple, etc definitely look rose(like you said, almost salmon), but the Chasuble looks downright red, but I suspect that is a combo of lighting and the silver

  11. John Anon says:

    If you have the rose vesments and you don’t use them you are in my humble but trained opinion a LOSER! You have no enthusiasm and you are simply a square block of lead. That or a tub of mud.

    The Church in Her greatness, considering the seriousness of the penitential seasons (at least they used to be) wanted to show the faithful the glorious comming. (Some other time I would also like to discuss the fact that the whole Advent penitential idea. Todays liturgicists have some stupid, un-traditional ideas of music and decorum.)

    Through colors and the arts in general, the faithful recieved instruction. There were no blogs, bibble courses and the sort.

    Use the rose, use the black and sing Christmas songs!!!

  12. JPG says:

    I went to the 9:30 at St Mary’s in Norwalk. A Solemn High Mass with Rose vestments and I think a Boromean style. Needless to say stunning. Fr Cipolla gave a great Sermon on Christian Joy.
    Fairfield, CT

  13. Maureen says:

    If you go over to New Liturgical Movement, there’s discussion of the old dye used to produce rose, which came from the rose madder plant. This natural dye was more red when new and more salmon when slightly faded.


    The paint.

    A picture of natural rose madder paint.

    The plant that makes the dye.

    Blogger who made rose madder dye, with picture.

    A rug from Baluchistan with wool dyed rose madder red.

  14. PMcGrath says:

    Rrom my parish: The new pastor had a new bright pink Gothic-cut chasuble, with a “Y” yoke, made of some kind of silk, putting aside the regular purple chasuble with the wide pink collar that we’ve been using for those two particular Sundays for the past few years.

    It definitely wasn’t salmony, as you described above, but it was streets better than the mostly purple thing.

  15. Amanda says:

    At our TLM at the Georgetown University Jesuit Residence this morning we had lovely rose colored vestments- a bit of a dusky rose. Lovely.

    Too bad at Georgetown we students are forbidden to celebrate the TLM in the main chapel on campus. After years of fighting for a regular Sunday TLM for students, our Campus Ministry has forbidden it and instead has relegated us to a weekday morning or the occasional time when we can use the Jesuit Residence chapel. This obviously does NOT meet any pastoral need! Please pray for us, all the students and priests involved so that one day the Extraordinary Form may return to Georgetown, not as a hidden thing, but as something to truly be an instrument of conversion.

  16. Brian Day says:

    I went to the wikipedia entry that Dr Eric listed. I was ready to give up until I went to the very bottom of the article. There they listed many shades of red, pink, and violet based “rose” colors.

    All things being equal, which color listed is the closest to rosacea? Coral red or carmine pink seemed to be the closest. Or is it a different color?

  17. I bought my rose chasuble at Arte Sacra on the via Cestari years ago. I knew we’d be dedicating a new church on the 3rd Sunday of Advent back in 1999, and I figured we’d need a nice chasuble for the bishop, 4 matching ones for the major concelebrants, and 2 matching stoles for the parish’s deacons. As it turned out, the diocese told us we’d be using white vestments, so I gave the deacons the stoles as Christmas gifts, I’ve given out the matching chasubles over the years as ordination gifts, and kept the nice chasuble for myself. Years later a photo in L’Osservatore Roman of Pope John Paul saying Mass while staying at the Gemelli clinic had him wearing the same exact chasuble. The inner geek in me was totally elated.

  18. Jayna says:

    Our clergy were “resplendent in rose” (as my pastor likes to put it) this morning. Every year whichever priest is celebrating the Mass makes sure to point out that he is wearing rose and not pink. The celebrant this morning actually told a story about how once a deacon didn’t want to wear the rose vestments and so Father laid down the law. He told us that he said “Look, I’m the celebrant and you wear what I wear.” He continued by saying the deacon reluctantly, but joyfully, wore the rose dalmatic.

    What’s interesting is that the vestments being worn at my parish are bit by bit getting to be a little more, how shall I say, embellished. Our pastor is on a leave of absence at the moment, and the parish administrator, the one who told the above story, has been wearing different styles of chasubles that I’ve never seen them wear before. Of course, when your vestments look like this, there’s really nowhere to go but up.

  19. TerryN says:

    Real men can wear pink, salmon, peach-pink, or rose… no need to explain – ever.

  20. michigancatholic says:

    It’s still pink.

  21. michigancatholic says:

    And ok, so it’s sort of coral-pink. But I’m a female and I know pink, and that’s pink, just not Pepto Bismol pink.

  22. Antiquarian says:

    At St Matthew’s Cathedral in DC, the priest and deacon wore a set of lovely, if simple, rose (definitely rose, not pink) vestments that were a gift to the parish this year. So there’s an idea– if the powers-that-be are at all receptive, GIVE them what you want them to wear!

    I know it wouldn’t work everywhere, but it did here. The rector of the cathedral has come in for some undeserved abuse here for not being “traditional enough,” and he not only resplendently wore the new vestments, he explained their use quite nicely.

  23. John Anon says:

    Real men don’t say stupid things, and suppress the stupid thoughts that come to them.

    Think. Correct the thinking. Think again. Type it out. Delete it. Write about something else.

    Suit and ties are somber. Medievals no matter how poor they were wore a lot more colorful things. Rose must have been among them.

    The word pink does not translate literaly anyhow. In other languages it is rose.

    Rosado… Spanish
    Rose… French
    Rosa… Port.
    Rosa… German
    Kulay rosas… Tagalo
    Rosaceum… Latin

  24. John says:

    TLM at University of Notre Dame in “pink”:

    From “The Shrine of the Holy Whapping.”

    Thanks Father Z for all that you do with TLM.


  25. A Random Friar says:

    Merriam Websters has online, under number 3 for “pink”: “any of a group of colors bluish red to red in hue, of medium to high lightness, and of low to moderate saturation” (the others had little to do with color). From this, I would say rose is a subset of pink. But rose does not apply to all pinks.

    Regardless of naming conventions, let’s avoid having poor Father look like a Pepto Bismol bottle (or keg, in many of our cases), shall we?

  26. Paul S. says:

    The good priest at our parish wore pink/salmon vestments with a wide silver band down the center. It looked quite old and additional cloth items on the altar had a silver cross with a silver star of David in the center.

  27. josephus muris saliensis says:

    What is all this fuss about pink? Have some people got a problem? Hundreds of poorer parishes have vestments which all but the most pedantic/romantic would describe as pink. My present parish has a set which are very bedroomy and pretty hideous, in ribbed silk and velvet, apart from a good embroidery of St John the Baptist holding the Agnus Dei. In the past I have know wonderful rose cloth of gold (but not often salmony, but pink rose-flower colour). Do you supposed traditionalists want us to throw away a rose vestment because it is too “pink” and “girly”? Heaven forfend!

    Let just get on and use what we have, otherwise this obsession with “pink” will encourage some fainthearted priests to abandon rose and wear violet instead. Far worse that an ugly shade of pom-pom pink.

    Incidentally, on violet in Europe, it can range (dependent on country and date) from the bright amaranthine of bishop’s soutanes, to nearly dark-blue (see St Peter’s dalmatics, often used now), to a browny-plum colour. There is NO CORRECT COLOUR. Thy are all liturgical violet. Live with it. [Wow. There is nothing wrong with knowing what the real color “rosacea” is. For pity’s sake. You need to relax.]

  28. Sandra in Severn says:

    Father wore Violet, not Rose vestments. Our parish has very pink vestments from a prior pastor (1970s). They look like pink table cloths with a bit of braid. I hope these are removed and we get proper ones before Lent.

  29. Tom says:

    I tend to agree with josephus muris saliensis. Wear what we have available. I work for a vestment company, and would that we had the “precise” shade of rosacea, but the fabric we have is dignified nonetheless. Wearing what the parish has available is as much an act of humility as is every other act of humility priests should be making on behalf of the liturgy. I worked for a parish that had a very old but very “pink” set of rose vestments. They were pepto bismol with a little milk added in I think, but it was gratifying nonetheless that the priest wore them in service of the liturgy. They were dignified because of their age and overall design. I’ve seen many many priests wear ugly – even hideous – poorly designed and fabricated violet vestments on Gaudete and Laetare Sunday’s because they were embarrassed to wear “pink.” It reminds me of Adam and Eve embarrassed to be naked before God. And yet their embarrassment revealed their newly acquired pride. If we can find rose fabric of the proper shade – GREAT! But in the meantime, if the parish has dignified vestments of a less than perfect shade of rose, suck it up. Wearing it will give witness to the fullness of the Church’s liturgy – and maybe just maybe encourage some wealthier parishioners to donate the money for newer better ones.

  30. Angie says:

    The pictured vestments are BEAUTIFUL! It is a shame that this is even an issue… the priests I grew up with and the priest at my current parish never had a problem wearing the rose. Praise be to GOD!

  31. Xpihs says:

    Rubrical question: Gold cannot be substituted for violet, but can it be substituted for rose as for green, white and red?

  32. trespinos says:

    Considering the huge audience it has, it is regrettable that EWTN has accepted truly pink vestments, as the Gaudete Mass yesterday demonstrated. In all my decades of observing the Laetare and Gaudete masses in the Archdiocese of Seattle, it seemed that, when rose was used and not substituted, the color was a very respectable “old rose” or “dusky rose”. OK, not that pink isn’t respectable, it’s just not rose.

  33. JPG says:

    Check out the new set at St Mary’s in Norwalk. These were
    wonderful.I alluded to them earlier. Is this a Boromean style?

  34. Mark G. says:

    Father: Are there any norms for the color of the inner lining of the vestments?

    The linings are often quite visible as the priest goes about his priestly business. In this regard, they are as “outer” as the outer color.

    Pray 4 priests? Everyday.

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