Blue Vestments? An annual rant.

From a reader:

Our priest borrowed glorious old blue vestments in the Roman style for today, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. He announced that it’s the first time for him, and that it is per a 400-some-year-old indult for Marian feasts in former Spanish Franciscan Missionary Territories (at least in N. America.) FYI/plans for your visits to the US Southwest.

I am sure the vestments were as beautiful as the feast.

That said, I am also sure that that legendary indult no longer applies. I am also sure that some people will want to argue that there is a custom of using blue on Marian feasts. I am sure that some will say that certain solemn occasions merit the most beautiful vestments in the place even though they might not be the right color. I am sure of all these things.

I am also sure that blue is not an approved liturgical color in the Roman Rite.

It sure isn’t an approved color for Advent.

I am also sure that the abusive use of blue vestments during Advent is tapering off.

As soon as blue is approved for use, I will be among the first to seek and obtain a set in the Roman stye!  The day they are approved, I will take up a collection and get, if possible, a truly spiffing set, perhaps even a solemn set, replete with cope and humeral veil.

As I have done in years past, I’ll post a poll about what you are seeing in your parish for Advent so far.  We’ll have to have another for rose vestments soon.

Obviously this in intended for the Roman Rite.

And while you are clicking your choice, enjoy this annual song from the official Parodohymnodist.

For the 1st and 2nd Sundays of Advent 2012, the vestments I saw were

View Results

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    The priests this morning, one serving as priest, one as deacon and one serving as sub-deacon, all wore absolutely beautiful golden vestments.

  2. acardnal says:

    Today, for the IC Solemnity, the priest used white vestments for the TLM/EF Mass. First Sunday of Advent EF, he wore violet.

  3. Gold for Our Lady today…but Violet last week….I for one would love to see Blue approved for the Roman Rite…I do think Blue for the Greek vestments looks better though

  4. Matt R says:

    It was violet for 1st Sunday of Advent, white with blue trim for the Solemnity of the IC in the Ordinary Form.

  5. persyn says:

    White (Silvery metallic white) with Blue and Gold trim. There WILL be Purple on the morrow (2nd Sunday of Advent). You can have Marian Vestments in the prescribed color (Silver and Gold are approved white equivalents) with a nice Marian blue trim.

  6. Hidden One says:

    St. Jean Vianney used blue vestments… with an indult from his bishop. [Citation lacking. And even if true, that would not make it right today.]

  7. Dla says:

    Actually today. Saturday on the Feast day, Father wore white.

  8. tgarcia2 says:

    Blue vestments are approved in the GIRM for the Philippines, some diocese in Spain, etc.

    That being said, white vestment with blue trim is approved. At my parish/diocese, Mass during the day was for the IC, evening Mass was 2nd Sunday in Advent.

  9. Bryan Boyle says:

    Sadly, though, in my parish in central NJ, while they were a beautiful shade of blue…they were entirely inappropriate for both the pastor and both deacons (who wore blue shashes) with which to celebrate Mass for the Solemnity today..

    Sometimes…you know, you just shake your head…especially when Fr. made it a point to claim pastoral reasons and to honor the Virgin he was doing so. You have to pick your battles, and the good pastor is fond of reminding folks that he is the pastor. Some things are just not worth it. I know, that sounds sad to say, but how many fingers do you have to stick in the dike?

    I would think that the Blessed Mother would be more happy if her son, the priest, followed the rules of the Church, which the priest promised to follow at his ordination, you know?

  10. Bryan Boyle says:

    I should have said blue ‘stoles’ for the deacon…sorry…I’ll go to the penalty box now…

  11. tonyfernandez says:

    For the Sundays of Advent I have seen purple. For today’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception it was blue.

  12. Lepidus says:

    But Father, don’t you know? That’s not blue. The Church has a different color between Advent and Lent. This isn’t blue. This is a royal violet – just like the Church requires!

  13. Lepidus says:

    Ugh! That last post was suppose to have brackets in it indicating sarcasm, which apparently were deleted as not being true HTML. Oh well….

  14. bbmoe says:

    At my old Episcopal church, they have adopted blue vestments for Advent, citing some fuzzy history/tradition/Vogue issue as reason enough, but in truth, it’s vestment me-tooism. Which reminds me of a joke:
    John Cardinal O’Connor was celebrating a particularly public, newsworthy mass, with cameras on and news coverage galore. As the procession began, one of the young altar servers stumbled and fell flat. The procession halted, waited for the young man to get up, then proceeded. All went well, when, at a later point in the mass, the same youngster again fell, pancaked, in front of the altar. He regained his composure, but at this point the Cardinal leaned over to his verger, and said, “Get him out of here.” “But why, Your eminence? It’s just an accident.” “If he does it one more time, the Episcopalians will insert it in their liturgy.”

  15. The Sicilian Woman says:

    Is there to be NO blue at all in vestments, or can there be blue, as long as the regular liturgical color is the predominant color?

    Our interim pastor, who seems to be a sincere, in-line-with-the-Church priest, wore a chasuble that had a blue cowl/collar, and a wide blue stripe down the front and down the back, but the rest of the the chasuble was white. Right or wrong?

  16. Geoffrey says:

    I saw blue vestments for the first time at the vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

    Has anyone ever contacted the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for a clarification regarding that ancient indult?

  17. JesusFreak84 says:

    Purple for Sundays (and the vestments look like they were meant for a priest half Father’s height =-p ) and white with blue and gold trims for IC. When I was attending a Ukrainian-Greek Catholic parish (just moved away from there,) it was white on Sundays and Marian feasts were a beautiful shade of blue.

  18. mike cliffson says:

    Ist sunday, sorter purple or mauve, evening mass today, of second sunday, ditto
    Yesterday, Blue for Our Lady, with a (excellent) sermon inter alia trying to overcharitably , bending-over-backwards, apportion credit to such nonSpaniards since the first century who have also occasionally defended what is now dogma.
    Doubt rest of parishes, diocese, country, any different, but being neither holy, knowledgable, nor ubiquitious, I can’t know for certain.

  19. JohnRoss says:

    Blue historically was the liturgical color used during Advent in the Sarum Use in England before the Protestant Revolution. Why not allow it in the Anglican Ordinariates?

  20. pberginjr says:

    @ JohnRoss – you need to read this post at the excellent Canterbury Tales (by Taylor Marshall):

    Basically the oldest English source for colors has no mention of blue.

  21. pberginjr says:

    I forgot to say something about the nice production values on the song, kudos Fr. Z!!

  22. Charles E Flynn says:

    A few days ago, I was wondering if anyone had determined whether the approved colors can be specified in the modern Pantone color system. I did not find what I was looking for, but I did find this article:

    The Liturgical Spectrum

    If you search on this page for the word “fluid” you see in its paragraph and the next a reference to a more fluid approach to the colors and to the idea that “certain solemn occasions merit the most beautiful vestments in the place even though they might not be the right color”. Be sure to note that the article is largely about Anglican practice. No Pantone colors, though, which makes me wonder why Google retrieved it when I searched for:

    catholic vestments pantone colors

  23. mamajen says:

    I remember as a kid we attended mass at a church that used blue Advent candles, which we thought was really bizarre. I cannot remember if the vestments were also blue, but they very well may have been–this church liked going “all out” with decorating and coordinating everything. I haven’t seen blue since, though.

  24. Rich says:

    O come, O come, liturgical blue
    Out with the old and in with the new…

  25. Today’s Tridentine Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the Priory of the Canons of the New Jerusalem included gorgeous gold or pale cream [indescribable ] iridescent tapestry-like fabric with touches of the most beautiful shade of blue. The contrasts created a vibrancy that must have come from heaven.

    And gosh durn, those blue vestments with the gold Fleur-de-Lys you posted Father sure are gorgeous. Drat. To think blue is illegal for Feasts of Mary for run-of-the-mill Latin-riters, just doesn’t seem right. I’m set to wondering – is there a liturgical color for Mary? Must be white for purity? Is this blue-thing a relatively new development? Where did this start?

  26. Sometimes violet can look blue.

  27. DetJohn says:

    For Joe of St. Therese,

    Fater Bishop wore a white Roman Chasuble with a blue cross on the back with a blue verticle stripe on the front.

    This was a special noon TLM at St. Therese in Alhambra, Ca About 120 or so in attendance.

  28. Will Elliott says:

    Went to Mass today at a church that is not my home parish. The pastor wore a Light Blue chasuble while the deacon and concelebrants wore white. [blech]

  29. Michael J. says:

    Why would the indult to wear Blue Vestements on Feasts Of Our Lady not apply to the Extraordinary Form of Mass? If it were permitted in 1962, why or what would prohibit it now? Thank you.

  30. Michael J. says:

    Sorry, should have added, in areas where it applied, in 1962? I believe that was in Spain and Germany, or perhaps only parts thereof.

  31. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Chim, chimeny, chim chimeny,chim-chim, cheroo,
    Our cassocks, not chasubles, these, they are blue
    What’s all the fuss for, this I’d like to know,
    Why change white or gold for this Marian hue,
    Why change white or gold for this Marian hue?

    (Switching to prose):

    I guess I don’t understand why, if there’s no universal tradition FOR it, it seems to keep popping up. Reminds me a bit of communion in the hand and such.

  32. DetJohn, thanks for the information…If I didn’t have to be back here in Idaho, I would have been at the Mass.

  33. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    I couldn’t stifle my chuckle while listening to O Come, O Come Liturgical Blue – loved it Fr. Z!

  34. Michael J. says:

    People can make of this what they will, but it came from, “The Catholic Encyclopedia”, provided by New Advent. “Between the 12th. and 16th. centuries blue and yellow were common but they may not be used without very special authorization.” (Cong. of Rites, Sept. 1837.). One more, “Blue is prescribed in some dioceses of Spain for the Mass of the Immaculate Conception.”

  35. Angie Mcs says:

    Advent Sundays are violet. The TLC vestments today were a rich creamy white, lined in a very pale blue. The cross on the back had an exquisitely embroidered picture of our Blessed Mother, accented with subtle touches of the same pale blue.

  36. idelsan says:

    It is a color that it can be only used in Spain. An exception granted by the Pope [Which Pope?]to Spain for it’s strength in promoting the dogma. I was ordained the 8th of december, and it that color (eight years ago). I tried uploading a photo to this blog but I could not.

  37. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Hidden One – St. Jean Vianney didn’t NEED an indult to use blue vestments. Like most of France in the 18th and 19th centuries, Ars was part of a diocese with its own liturgical books, and the use of blue vestments was part of their rite (more properly, their Use of the Roman Rite.)

    Sicilian Woman – Vestments which are predominantly one of the regularly approved liturgical colors may have decorations of other colors in them.

    It is may be noted while it is certainly true that the SRC clearly and explicitly forbade the use of blue vestments outside Spain and dependencies, this decree like many others was hardly enforced, and many parts of Italy continued to use it, especially Tuscany, Genua, and the Kingdom of Naples (formerly attached to the Spanish Crown.) The Cathedral of Arezzo in Tuscany has in the treasury museum an amazingly beautiful set of blue vestments for Pontifical Mass, with everything down to the humeral veil, and the seven copes for Vespers.

  38. Fr McNamara over at ZENIT took the question of blue vestments up and said that the idult for using them on Marian feasts applies for Spain and some shrines. He notes that Benedict used BLue in a shrine in Austria. Using the Spanish idult for anywhere in Latin America is uncertain and I suspect in former Spanish parts of the US, even less sure.

  39. vetusta ecclesia says:

    I have a feeling that the Minor Basilica and Abbey Church of Downside Abbey, UK, has the privilege of blue vestments.

  40. Dominic Maria says:

    You are right Vetusta, Downside does have the Privilege of blue. [Says who? I am always interested to know the details of these claims. I am sure there was once some privilege. But, when?] Its priests have the privilige and can use them wherether they celebrate on certain feasts of Our Lady. Their are also some other churches near there which the abbey founded and served which have also retained the privilige. The shrine at Walsingham also has the Privilige of Blue, they have some rather lovely blue copes there.

  41. Imrahil says:

    Violet for Advent, violet for the Immaculate Conception (because it was an evening Mass… even though there is a rule that you can celebrate the Mass of the day as well, holding good for the Sunday obligation too, and there was no other Mass on that same day in that parish [we have no obligation for the Immaculate]), and white Roman-style (short) vestments from the 18th century with quite explicit touches of blue in the Evening Mass of the Immaculate on Friday (which I specifically looked up for on the diocesan webpage).

    Besides, as a layman I take my freedom not to care at all about disobedience as such. It’s the general vicar’s job to push his discipline through and call the disobedient to responsibility. If he doesn’t, not my problem. Or “somebody else’s problem” for those acquainted with Douglas Adams.

    When I sometimes do sigh is when disobediences are about something essentially important. Or just make no sense besides being an alternation. This is here not the case; all agree that having a special Marian color and using it on the Feast of the Immaculate could quite well be made into law, be it as allowance or even as rule. Hence, let the responsible superiors take appropriate action if they see fit; but no reason for a problem.

    And if the priest really claims an indult that apparently included North America and apparently has not been explicitly revoked… then is that simply “legendary”? He might even have worn white or applied for an indult himself, were he not convinced of that.

    However, concerning the feast of the Immaculate, white (not golden) is a very appropriate and symbolic color, more so than blue. Just like the first snowfall which so very often appears around this day and succeeds in finally bringing along the “silent time” of contemplativeness which Advent has been called. I could even imagine a potential rule to have all Marian feasts (including votives of the Immaculate) in blue but the Immaculate in white.

  42. Alice says:

    There is an update to the Zenit article mentioned by Matthew P. Schneider, LC, on the EWTN website. The indult was given to Spain, Latin America, and the Spanish colonies in 1864. I’m not sure that the American Southwest would be part of that, but since I suspect that the indult was simply recognizing what had been the longstanding practice, I suppose one could argue it both ways.

  43. MargaretC says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen blue vestments in use. The ones shown in the picture that accompanied this post are, indeed, spiffing. If blue is ever officially authorized, I’ll be glad to chip in for a set.

    That said: on the feast day, Father wore white (cream, actually) with gold trim. Advent Sundays are always violet.

  44. jaykay says:

    White poncho-type thing on 8th December in our local church. Honestly, when they have a beautiful gothic set from no later than the 50s this 90s blanket got dragged out…

    Violet for Advent Sundays, quite decent vestments really. We don’t have a rose set for Gaudete Sunday.

  45. wmeyer says:

    Well. We had a concelebration. Pastor wore a fairly traditional style of chasuble which was very blue. The other priest wore a polyester thing which was mainly white, with a baby blue upper section, decorated only with a dove in embroidered metallic silver.

  46. Random Friar says:

    All men of good will must agree, of course, that the proper vestments for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are blue and gold, the colors of Our Lady. Modernists who have attempted to impose green on the Fighting Irish uniforms incur latae sententiae the wrath of the devotees of Our Lady.

  47. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Random Friar,

    “…blue and gold, the colors of Our Lady.”

    *Navy* blue is a color of Our Lady? Did not know this. ;)


  48. Simon_GNR says:

    I believe JohnRoss is right when he says that blue was the colour for advent in the Old Sarum rite. Some Anglican churches, e.g. Durham Cathedral (in England), use this liturgical colour for advent, and very nice it can look too. But we’re not Sarum Rite Catholics, we’re Latin (Roman) Rite Catholics, and so, as Fr Z says, we must use purple/violet vestments etc during advent as these are the only ones permitted by the laws of that rite.

  49. ReginaMarie says:

    As ours is an Eastern rite parish, today Father wore beautifully embroidered blue vestments with a lovely image of the Theotokos holding the Christ Child on the back. Blue is worn at our parish on Feasts of the Theotokos, the Presentation of the Lord, the Annunciation, Feasts of Bodiless Powers, Feasts of Virgins, & the Dormition Fast (until the Elevation of the Cross).

  50. mike cliffson says:

    Fun thread !
    Appropo, The church, rightly, takes it’s time to tidy up dioceses after any temporal change of sovereignty, i e conquest in most cases. Florida, on the other hand, was negotiated, though I am reasonably sure that even there Your government……….Anyhow, what did happen to all the once Spanish dioceses , mostly, except for Florida, briefly Mexican? Or Guam and the Philipines?
    Where there has been Catholic on Catholic, as in much of Europe, bad feeling can remain to this day, and surfaces on this sort of point.
    Ive heard Thomist Indian catholics (yes, I know that’s not the right set of names) still waxing purple-faced indignant about Portugese insensitivity centuries ago.
    Rome, many of us feel unwisely, saw fit to be bending over backwards regarding maintaining that very same Henry VIII’s incorporation of his dad’s native Wales into the English hierarchy, even in the foreign seminaries: There were Scots and Irish colleges(=seminaries) in European exile, but the English colleges lumped in the Welsh, which contributed , it is said, I know not how correctly, to the demise of the once flourshing Welsh recusancy, and still rankles to this day.
    Dear me , aint we humans complicated!

  51. idelsan says:

    Pope Pius the VII in 1819 granted the permission for this color to the cathedral of Sevilla. Then, in 1879, it was given to whole of Spain. I do not know about the “colonies”. It has to be said, that in Spain, the feast of The Inmaculate Conception it’s never celebrated during an advent sunday. For example, next year the 8th it’s sunday, and it has been postponed to the 9th.

  52. erin_hark says:

    Imrahil – ““somebody else’s problem” for those acquainted with Douglas Adams” :)

  53. James Joseph says:

    This priest is wearing white vestments that have blue in them.

  54. TXKathi says:

    I attended my parents OF parish last weekend. I was pleasantly surprised – while the blue banners & blue Advent candles have been maintained, Father changed to violet vestments this year. However, he still insists on “for All” @ the consecration .

    Can’t have too much change in one year.

  55. annmac says:

    Our Priest wore white with blue/gold inlay…it was at an OF Mass

  56. Joshua08 says:

    I am absolutely certain that the privilege for blue at one time existed at least in the ecclesiatical Province of Santa Fe, New Mexico. As a general rule, California dioceses adopted US customs fairly quickly, shedding Spanish customs. But the Province of Santa Fe retained ecclesiatical customs, indults and privileges that it had when part of Spain. E.g., one could eat meat on Friday in Santa Fe NM up until 1951 when Archbishop Byrne ruled that they would conform to the practice in the rest of the US. Likewise, whereas a Catholic could marry a protestant without Catholic form or permission in New York (until Ne Temere was issued in 1908), the decree Tametsi applied fully in the Province of Santa Fe (hence even two people, protestants from birth, could not validly marry without Catholic form!). I could go on about the oddities

    It is fully possible and very likely that the privilege of blue continued in the Santa Fe province for some time. But it could also have been rescinded by the Irish-American hiearchy, just as most Spanish customs were in other former Spanish territories in the US. It would also be difficult to claim that the indult is valid, considering the effects of both the 1917 and 1983 CIC on previous indults and the general repudiation of blue through disuse (kind of ceases to be immemorial custom when it hasn’t been done in decades). My two ¢

  57. TKS says:

    Visiting in LA over First Sunday of Advent. Brilliant turquoise vestments with small stripe of purple., accompanied by a liturgical dancer, and many liturgical abuses. I always thought some of the comments about this diocese were exaggerated. Not.

  58. St. Epaphras says:

    Violet at both parishes (NO) I attended for Advent Sundays I and II and II. So long as we can afford the gas, I plan to travel to parishes where the priests care enough to “say the black and do the red” (and wear the correct liturgical color). It’s a funny thing, too…the sermons, the way Mass is celebrated and the overall reverence are additional blessings at these parishes. It all seems to go together. Oh, and one of them offers Confession before every single Mass! Of course, when I’m so blessed as to be at the TLM, all (and I mean ALL) is well. :-) But that’s an even longer drive. God is so very good!

  59. trespinos says:

    First Sunday of Advent saw violet-cum-purple vestment at Parish 1. Really, one or the other solid color would be preferable, I think. The two in combination are not appealing to me. Today, at Parish 2, a solid violet was used and was more dignified.

  60. JonPatrick says:

    White/Gold on Saturday for the EF Mass of the Immaculate Conception, Purple on Sunday for both EF and OF Masses, at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul Lewiston ME. They say the black/do the red there, Deo Gratias!

  61. Dominic Maria says:

    My memory on why Downside has blue is a bit shady but as I remember it was because Downside was founded in Flanders and then moved to the Spanish Netherlands where blue was in legal use. It has therefore claims all the privileges enjoyed by Spain. If memory serves this was confirmed officially by the Holy See at some point, though I can’t remember all the details exactly.

  62. onosurf says:

    Saw blue on Saturday, purple on Sunday. Your poll didn’t allow for that option.

  63. ajf1984 says:

    Had blue vestments on the 1st Sunday of Advent; Advent wreath had 3 candles of the same color and a fourth that was rose, various cloths draped around the sanctuary also of this deep blue color. NB: our pastor clarified that it was “royal purple” during the announcement period preceding the final blessing, and joked that it was in answer to the fact that we are in Packers country, and certainly couldn’t use the tradition violet as it has too many connections with the MN Vikings. I was not convinced by that rationale, nor by the “royal purple” comment…more like “royal blue,” maybe…attended a different parish for Mass yesterday (violet vestments).

  64. VLL says:

    For the Saturday vigil mass, we saw our brave young priest wearing two shades of violet, with white as a tertiary color and cruciform gold tracery. Even his gold rimmed glasses coordinated. :) The deacon wore a white alb and a violet and gold sash. The altar servers were also in white. In addition, the candle bearers wore violet short cloaks (sorry, the name escapes me), which were also edged with a fine band of gold.

    The strange part is there was an assistant who wore mostly black with a white short cloak with lace. He looked like he was missing the white part of the roman collar. He mostly stood by the priest, and was looking at the book, but did not do much but bow when the priest did. He *may* have helped distribute communion, but not sure. I think he was a seminarian, who perhaps did not get the dress code memo. Are there special dress rules for seminarian trainees?

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