ASK FATHER: Blue Vestments… again!

From a future seminarian…


What’s the current ruling on blue vestments? Can they be used or no? I’ve heard some say that only places with an indult, like Portugal, can use them. Others say that the Vatican doesn’t really care.

P.S. Please pray for me as I’m entering seminary this August!

Ah, the Blue Vestment Brannigan.

On 12 February 1864, the Sacred Congregation of Rites extended a privilege to Spain, its colonies, and Latin America permitting the use of blue vestments on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is questionable whether “Latin America” included those parts of the southwestern United States that were formerly part of Mexico.

If I had recourse to the actual decree of the Congregation, it might be clearer.   Anyone?

Certain Marian shrines in Europe have been granted similar, but very specific, privileges.

These privileges only apply to those places and feasts for which the privilege has been granted.

Outside of those specific cases, blue vestments (that is, vestments made primarily with blue fabric) are not allowed in the Latin Church. Of course vestments that are primarily another color (white, for example), with blue ornamentation, are permitted.

I will add that, as soon as they are approved, I’ll get some!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Linking Back, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. padredana says:

    I was in Rome last week and there was a lovely blue vestment in the window of Gamarelli.

  2. CradleRevert says:

    I would love to see them approved universally for Marian feast days. I find blue vestments to be absolutely gorgeous.

  3. mburn16 says:

    Im rather surprised that Francis hasn’t extended the privilege universally. [You are?] I can only assume it to be a consequence of his profound disinterest in liturgical questions. Blue for advent anyone? [Horrible idea. Advent is a penitential season of preparation before a great feast.] Our own parish uses a decidedly-blueish hue of purple for the season.

    Then again, I can only hope those blue vestments worn by Pp. Benedict XVI were burned.

  4. VexillaRegis says:

    Beautiful fleur de lis pattern, even if the background colour is not allowed in most places :-). Is the picture from Portugal by any chance?

  5. Andrew says:

    Can anyone object to blue vestments used in this church?:

  6. Heather F says:

    I would love to see that, too, CradleRevert!

    Our parish has a stunning set of beautifully embroidered vestments from Ukraine in all the usual liturgical colours plus a blue one. The other colours have images of the triumphant slain Lamb on the breast, but the blue one, if I recall correctly, has a Madonna and Child. I’ve only ever seen it once, when the pastor wore it I think on January 1 for the Feast of Mary Mother of God. When I commented on it after mass he said he “couldn’t resist” using it at least on that one special occasion.

  7. acricketchirps says:

    I was surprised the part of the question,

    Others say that the Vatican doesn’t really care,

    wasn’t addressed. For me that was the most entertaining part. I think I can assure the questioner that a sizeable majority of the people living in the Vatican don’t care–but then, who cares?

  8. Haec Dies says:

    I understand the Latin Rites position on Blue Vestments. According to the rubrics white is designated as the color for virgins as the Blessed Virgin Mary surely was. However, I like the idea of blue for Her special feasts. If there was one thing that could organically change in the liturgy of he church it would be this and I doubt that it would cause shockwaves.

  9. Haec Dies says:

    Andrew, the “Blue Church” in Bratislava, Slovakia is absolutely gorgeous and everything in it is various shades of blue. Thanks for posting.

  10. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    I also believe that blue is permitted as a color for feasts of Our Lady in the Anglican Use. I presume (but do not know for certain) that this permission has extended to the parishes of the Anglican Ordinariates.

    I read once (but sadly can’t recall the book in which I read it), that a Patriarch of Venice, shortly after the Council of Trent, applied for and obtained permission of the Holy See to use orange vestments on a certain occasion, because he had just received delivery of a very expensive set of silk vestments from Cathay that were not quite the color he had expected them to be. Gratis assertur, gratis negatur – there is a possibility that I dreamed reading that anecdote…

  11. frjim4321 says:

    A rather conservative Benedictine Abbot in KY told me once that they had official permission to use blue for feasts of Mary … Father Joseph? If not KY a state around there … NOT Gethemene for sure, some other place…

  12. Widukind says:

    What would be the proper procedure to make
    a petition to Rome, for use of blue vestments?
    Would it get anywhere?

  13. Adam Welp says:

    Fr. Jim,

    The only Benedictine community near KY that I know of is St. Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, IN. I can ask some people I know there to see if such a permission was extended to them.

  14. Imrahil says:

    I’ve seen blue vestments around here for Marian feast sometimes, in EF context (never in OF context, actually). I’m not sure whether there was any indult to Bavaria…

    but then, I guess, given that gold and white are indistinguishable in liturgy, and that blue is not yet a liturgical color except where it is (so the question of misunderstanding what actually the color is doesn’t arise), the distinction between “gold [i. e. white] with much decoration in blue” from “blue with very present gold embroidery” does not… let me put it this way… seem to be exact science.

    That said, except possibly for the Rorate Mass, blue has nothing and cannot possibly have anything to do with Advent. The Advent color is violet … and rose, you know, on Gaudete Sunday. How beautiful that is!

  15. Wiktor says:

    I’ve noticed that at my parish there are two sets of white vestments used: the normal white ones, and white-blue ones (that still probably count as “white”) for Marian feasts.

  16. andia says:

    How much of the base material can be covered in ornamentation? If I make vestments with 51% white and 49% embroidered other color would it be usable?

  17. Intrepidus says:

    Adam (and Fr. Jim),

    St. Meinrad Archabbey in S. Indiana (near KY border) does have some “blue vestments”. They have Christological “stags” all over them in gold, and the blue is a raised velvet; nice vestments. However, I was given to believe (by the monk who keeps all the vestments and knows all their history) that in this particular case, the permission was granted because they succeeded in making the case that the base color of the vestments was gold, even though the predominate color that meets the eye is blue. So therefore those vestments were considered liturgically appropriate for white feasts.

    So, at least in this case, there was no permission given for out-and-out blue vestments, but it seems they found a comfy loophole, and I shouldn’t be surprised if that would work for other people who want to have blue vestments for Marian feasts. Hope that helps.

  18. Filipino Catholic says:

    Likely my country is under the indult permitting blue for this feast. We were under Spanish rule for 333 years after all (1565-1898). But this is also prone to being abused: I have seen blue used for other Marian feasts.

  19. smcollinsus says:

    Before the Walsingham community in Houston came back into the fold, they had a simple blue chasuble with a silver Marian symbol. Some time after I began worshiping there, we pretty much stopped using them. Then, a few years later, a beautiful solemn set in blue and gold brocade were purchased. What was the ratio of blue to gold? I’m not sure. The thing is that the rubric allow for white, or gold, or the best vestments the parish owns. (If that’s not actually in the rubrics, then I stand to be corrected.) They were only used on Marian feasts.

    I personally wouldn’t mind blue being allowed, but NOT in place of purple for Advent. I would also love to see Sarum yellow allowed for feasts of confessors, for which there is a historical precedence. It would also be nice if more churches had a Passion (blood) red as well as a bright Pentecost red.

  20. Jesson says:

    The privilege as it stands in the Philippines:

  21. Jesson says:

    Timeline for cerulean vestments

    28 November 1819
    Pope Pius VII, by means of a papal brief, approves (the first approval of its kind) the use of cerulean vestments, at the request of the then incumbent archbishop of Seville, Cardinal Francisco Javier Cienfuegos Jovellanos, only for the chapter of Seville.

    8 December 1854
    Pope Pius IX approves the use of cerulean vestments, at the request of Cardinal Juan José Bonel y Orbe, archbishop of Toledo, primate of Spain, and patriarch of the West Indies, for the metropolitan cathedral of Toledo and all churches within the see.

    19 September 1879
    Cardinal Joaquín Lluch y Garriga, archbishop of Seville, obtains from Pope Pius IX the extension of the cerulean privilege to all churches within his see.

    8 May 1862
    The Sacred Congregation of Rites extends the privilege to San Cristóbal de la Habana in Cuba at the request of Don Francisco Fleix Soláns, bishop of the see, made to Pope Pius IX.

    25 September 1891
    The Sacred Congregation of Rites extends the privilege to Arequipa in Peru at the request of Don Juan María Ambrosio Huerta Galván, archbishop of the see, made to Pope Leo XIII. [Footnote to the extension suggests permission to use cerulean on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and on the feast of the Miraculous Medal.]

    15 February 1902
    The Sacred Congregation of Rites issues a definitive prohibition against the use of cerulean on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and on the feast of the Miraculous Medal.

    7 September 1903
    Pope Saint Pius X includes amongst the duties of the Sacred Congregation of Rites the faculty to permit of the use of cerulean vestments in the festive and votive Masses of the Immaculate Conception for the Spanish Realm and for places currently and formerly subjected to it.

    11 February 1910
    Pope Saint Pius X extends the cerulean privilege to the entire Philippine archipelago, at the request of the Fathers of the First Provincial Council of Manila.

Comments are closed.