QUAERITUR: Are gold vestments permitted?

From a reader:

Is gold a licit primary color for chasubles? I’ve seen it for many Eucharist-themed vestments, but I don’t know if that’s allowed or recommended.

Yes.  Gold is allowed in the Latin Church as a primary color for vestments.  Gold, as a matter of fact, like white, can substitute for other liturgical colors.

Here is a detail of the fabric of one of my nicer chasubles.

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  1. disco says:

    Gold can substitute for White Green or Red for solemn occasions

  2. dominic1955 says:

    Also, gold is “basically” white as the liturgical colors go.

  3. Legisperitus says:

    And I believe silver is treated the same as gold.

  4. majuscule says:

    Oh this is so good to know! I was going through the vestments in the closet at church, arranging the chasubles according to color. We don’t have that many for our little church but it dates back to the mid 1950s and I think they are all there. There were several green and a couple white as well as purple, and then the gold one that I’d never seen used!

    Our single red one is not in good shape, so it’s nice to know that we can substitute!

    Now if the powers that be (aka those in charge) will believe me…

  5. prs1 says:

    I tend to look on cloth of gold as ‘best’ white. It seems particularly appropriate for Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.

  6. “Now if the powers that be (aka those in charge) will believe me…”

    You mean . . . That gold vestments are permitted? Pope Benedict wore gold Mass vestments on a number of occasions, starting with his Inaugural Mass:


  7. I look at it the same as prs1. I typically see gold vestments function as sort of ‘one step above’ white.

  8. stebert says:

    I was not aware of white being a general substitute for other liturgical colors. The 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia on Liturgical Colors generally corresponds to my understanding of our general western liturgical discipline:

    Silver = White
    Gold = White/Red/Green

    Father Z, is there more recent legislation on the use of white, beyond the general principle that the impossible is not obligatory?

  9. Scott Woltze says:

    As long as the gold doesn’t look like something Elvis would have worn…

  10. Alan22 says:

    My recollection, which others will doubtless correct, is that cloth of gold (which is not the same as gold coloured) vestments could substitute for all other liturgical colours apart from black.

    This is why army chaplains during the Great War were issued reversible chasubles, cloth of gold on one side and black on the other. I have only come across one reversible chasuble; the tapes for securing it to the priest’s chest were detachable rather than being sewn into the lining. Each tape ended in a kind of ornamental button covered in a fabric that corresponded to the braid edging the orphreys on the chasuble. The chasuble itself had two small holes in the front, through which the tapes were drawn and the “buttons” remained visible, looking like decorations on the chasuble.

  11. APX says:

    I disagree with gold being one step up from white. White is the color of purity. Gold isn’t…unless it’s white gold. When I see yellow gold, I see impurities and dirt. Personally, I think more solemn feasts for which white is the liturgical color (ie: Easter, and Virgin Feasts) should be celebrated using very white vestments. The color of freshly fallen snow atop a mountain where nothing has access to it to make it dirty.

    That being said, our only sets of solemn vestments are black and gold, and I’m too poor to donate the money for a white set.

    I’ve seen canary yellow substituted for gold vestments a few times. It was like Mass being celebrated by the Tweetie bird or Big Bird.

  12. Dies Irae says:

    Your vestments are beautiful, Father!

    Just out of curiosity, where do you get them from? The Benedictines of Mary, maybe?

  13. JMody says:

    The crypt museum in Cologne (Koeln) Germany has a chasuble with gold wire embroidery from something like 15th century — not gold colored, gold. If I remember rightly, the weight was something like 70 pounds.

  14. dcs says:

    My recollection, which others will doubtless correct, is that cloth of gold (which is not the same as gold coloured) vestments could substitute for all other liturgical colours apart from black.

    Gold cannot substitute for violet — in other words, you should not see your priest wearing gold vestments on Sundays of Lent or Advent!

  15. dominic1955 says:


    Well, isn’t that a good thing that the Church and tradition decide such things and not our erroneous personal biases? Gold is “yellow” when pure, that is what it is going to look like when you get it out to .99999 fineness (or even better if they have). “White” gold is a jewelry term, it basically means it was mixed (alloyed) with a white metal like nickel-which means its less pure than yellow gold though “stronger” in the utilitarian sense. This, and the fact that mankind since time immemorial has associated gold with glory, power, solemnity, royalty, etc. etc. is the reason that gold vestments are considered an “upgrade” on white. What we consider “gold” color thus accurately represents not only purity, but royalty and higher things as well.

  16. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    I agree with what stebert and dcs have said above, as far as it goes, but it does not go so far as the current IGMR #346,”On more solemn days, festive, that is, more precious, sacred vestments may be used even if not of the color of the day.” (Not a very good translation of the Latin, IMHO, “Diebus sollemnioribus adhiberi possunt sacrae vestes festivae seu nobiliores, etsi non sunt coloris diei.”)

    IGMR #346 is obviously compatible with what the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia says, but also allows considerably more leeway to those who want it.

  17. Mark Scott Abeln says:

    I’ve recently read about the use of gold thread in embroidery, which was much used in vestments, altar cloths, and sanctuary hangings. This seems to be a much higher and better use of that noble element than simply locking it up in a basement vault in Manhattan.

  18. Dear Fr. Z. and others,

    About three years ago, my religious superior and I tried to find genuine cloth of gold brocade by the yard to have a new solemn set of vestments made. The only thing in actual cloth of gold that we were able to find was plain gold cloth (the kind used for gold miters) from Gamarelli. What we wanted was something along the lines of the cloth used for the vestment of which there is a picture in this post. Can anyone tell me where one can purchase that kind of (real) gold brocade?

  19. Fr. Thompson: Have you tried La Lame in NYC?

  20. http://www.knoxlatinmass.net/gallery/ChristKing2009/Broadband/Broadband.htm

    The cloth of gold in these pictures was purchased from La Lame, which has several choices available.

  21. Dear Father,

    No, never heard of them. But from what I see at their site, this looks like it might be the place to get what we were looking for.


    –AT op

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