ASK FATHER: Color of veil on Cross for Good Friday

From a reader…

What color veil is the Cross covered with on Good Friday for the Adoration of the Holy Cross? Rather, is there any place in or outside the Missale Romanum that would indicate any color other than violet?

I respect our good Pastor’s authority, naturally. I am sorry for adding to his stress level approaching Holy Week, but I opened my unfortunate mouth and asked why we don’t use violet. Being merely a lay person I defer to him, and was hoping to learn. However, my question was not received well and went unanswered. I understand this is a rather silly question about “nitty gritty details,” but I honestly was curious.

The Roman Missal – for the Ordinary Form, the Novus Ordo – has a specific indication about the color of the cloth covering the Cross on Good Friday in rubric 15:

“The Deacon accompanied by ministers, or another suitable minister, goes to the sacristy, from which, in procession, accompanied by two ministers with lighted candles, he carries the Cross, covered with a violet veil [velo violaceo obtectam], through the church to the middle of the sanctuary.”

In the traditional, Extraordinary Form, violet prescribed for Good Friday.

In recent years, for Good Friday in St. Peter’s celebrated by the Pope, we have seen a red veil. It strikes me that this is a custom of papal liturgy. For example, red vestments are used for the Requiem of a Pope rather than black or violet/purple.

That said, the fact remains that the Missal says violet, not some other color.

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, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ray from mn says:

    I used to be employed by a large commercial printer. A glance at the Pantone color book would show that there might be 50 shades of the color Violet. (also the color Rose for Gaudete and Laetare Sundays).

    The USCCB should send out color samples of vestments, rather than making confusing statements about “well-formed consciences.”

  2. Inigo says:

    It was a medieval custom in the diocese of Esztergom Hungary to veil the Cross on Good Friday with a red chasuble. This veiled cross would then be brought out from the sacristy by priests wearing surplice and red chasubles while the principal color of the mass (including what the celebrant was wearing) was black.

  3. mpolo says:

    There is a tradition in several dioceses here in Germany to put a red stole on the Cross from Palm Sunday through the Eastertide. (On Good Friday it is still covered with violet, though, just with the stole underneath.) It is even “laid in the grave” after Good Friday with the stole on.

Comments are closed.