Fr. Z’s Annual Rant On Blue Vestments

15_11_29_blue_lampasThe use of blue vestments during Advent has been dying out for several years as the aging hippies drop.  However, inspired by Pope Francis, perhaps we shouldn’t be so rigid and just – what the heck – use them anyway?

Let’s review.

I am pretty sure that that famous indult for blue in Spanish territories doesn’t any longer apply.  It was privilege was granted to Spain and its colonies, and Latin America, by a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites in 1864. In a nutshell, the concessions given for the use of cerulean were few in number and were quite restrictive by the clear intent of the Holy See.  Also, a couple years ago we learned from a commentator that the Spanish bishops approved, the use of blue (“azul”) for the Marian Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  It’s in their Ordo.  Perhaps some reader in Spain can check on this for this year.   There is a treasure trove of information about past concessions to use cerulean/blue vestments HERE.  Ultimate Fr. Z kudos for that.  

At this point, some people always blurt, “But Father! But Father! Once upon a time in Spanish territories there was an indult and… therefore… we can… you know!  You are… are… so… so… RIGID!  YOU MUST HATE VATICAN II!”

Yeah yeah… sure.  It’s still against the law.

But… lots of things are against the law and, these days, it doesn’t seem to make a difference! Let’s just do whatever the hell we want!  Surely that proves that I really do love Vatican II after all!  After all, I don’t want to be rigid, do I?  Isn’t that about the worst thing anyone can ever be?  We have to be flexible, unless we are … you know…

Also, this coming year is the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s apparitions.  Right?

Year in and year out I say that, as soon as blue is approved for use (and I sincerely hope it will be!) I will be among the first to have a beautiful set made in the Roman style!  I will take up a collection and get a magnificent Pontifical set, replete with cope and humeral veil.  With dalmatics and tunics and gremials and frontals!  I’ll get a stupendous Low Mass set with gold and embroidery.  I will ask for yhuge donations!  I’ll even have my coat of arms embroidered on them!

Okay…. I  give up.  Why should I wait?  Churchmen at the highest levels can pretend that Christ didn’t mean what he said about matrimony.  Why can’t I pretend blue is approved for the entire Latin Church right now?  If different dioceses and conferences can come up with opposing “policies” about Communion for the divorced and remarried, will anyone really care if we use an unapproved color for our vestments?

I found a pretty good fabric that could be used in three different versions of blue.  Whaddya think?


navy blue and gold jacquard

Baby Blue

light blue and gold jacquard

A sort of turquoise, I suppose.

turquise blue and gold jacquard

And it’s only $11/yard, which is a great deal.  I should order some samples.

I didn’t see examples in teal or powderpuff.

Speaking of different colors of blue, here once again is legendary song from our official Parodohymnodist.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Marian feasts celebrated according to the Missal of Divine Worship at the Anglican Use Ordinariate are celebrated with Blue Vestments. Perhaps there is room for some mutual enrichment in this area…

  2. Joseph-Mary says:

    Yes, there are blue vestments used at one of the parishes in my town.

  3. ChesterFrank says:

    Properly, what color should the Advent vestments be? Is it purple or violet? They are two distinct color classes, and where amongst those color ranges does the true color(s) reside. Some shades of violet are nearly blue, such as PANTONE 18-3944 TPX Violet Storm (RGB 88 96 162 ). A purple color that might be mistaken for blue is PANTONE 17-3919 TPX Purple Impression (RGB 134 145 183). Someone can always argue that blue is purple or violet because it contains an imperceptible hint of red, and the argument can get so finicky and contested that it requires a canonical lawyer reach a verdict. I say this only because I had thought this first Sunday Advents vestments and wreath candles and altar coverings were purposefully blue at the Mass I attended, though some wisenheimer might argue they were simply a very blue shade of purple-violet.

  4. Hidden One says:

    Have any bishops requested an indult for the use of cerulean lately?

  5. Emilio III says:

    Although I’m not in Spain, I can verify that the Spanish Ordo (from still lists blue as well as white for the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

  6. Frank H says:

    That turquoise looks stunning!

  7. MikeR says:

    I would be super happy if the priest who said the Mass I attended on Sunday had been wearing vestments at all, he had on an alb & some sort of big stole, that’s it.

  8. CradleRevert says:

    I know this post is tongue-in-cheek, but in all seriousness I’ve seen some gorgeous white/gold vestments with very prominent blue trim and ornamentation, which I think strikes a nice compromise until the days when blue is approved (if ever).

  9. VeritasVereVincet says:

    We have a vestment that is the opposite of CradleRevert’s: it’s completely the color of your third fabric, but it has a sort of rectangular white piece embroidered with Marian symbols hanging freely down the front and back. That is, it’s not a central panel set into the blue, it’s actually a separate piece of fabric hanging over it and attached only at the neck. It gets used mostly for Marian feasts, and is supposedly a copy of some other vestment.

    Father says the white piece makes the whole thing technically “white”. I am…skeptical.

  10. Filipino Catholic says:

    I was waiting for this rant to show up! It’s always a pleasure to see it when it does arrive.

    Being from the Philippines I can state, going off the masterpost of concessions to use liturgical blue, that our indult from 11 Feb. 1910 is still in force since the privilege was never abrogated. Unfortunately that concession applies only to Masses in honor of the Immaculate Conception, which means the Mass proper to December 8 (and formerly also the days within its octave) and all votive Masses thereof, excluding Our Lady of Lourdes or of the Miraculous Medal. That hasn’t stopped the local clergy from using blue for more Marian feasts than is permitted, alas.

    As for specific shades I’ve mainly seen the paler hues in my time, though personally would favor a richer blue like the color of the sky opposite the sun at the hour of None. @ChesterFrank there’s a post about liturgical purple (violaceus) somewhere on the interwebs, but basically there was not much difference between violaceus and purpura in the older days, and no distinction between the violaceus used for Lent and that used for Advent. This is probably why when it comes to violaceus I’m partial to a shade resembling Tyrian purple, which is impossible to confuse with blue.

  11. Doug says:

    Chester, I once told a class of second-graders that we have two words for one color in English: purple and violet. Later, on the way back in from recess, we passed some lavender plants…

  12. gracie says:


    I believe that Violet is for Advent and Purple is for Lent. However, the same colored chasuble, either violet OR purple, seems to be used for both of the Seasons in any of the parishes I’ve attended, probably because it’s considered to be an unnecessary expense to have both.

    Speaking of colors, I read once that red is supposed to be worn on Good Friday but I’ve only ever seen purple worn on that day. As for Palm Sunday – 50/50 it’s either purple or red.

  13. CradleRevert says:

    Our mutual friend John Sonnen recently posted a picture of beautiful blue vestment contained in the chasuble arsenal at St. Agnes in St. Paul, MN.

    St. Agnes is very particular about following the Mass rubrics, so I very much doubt that they’ve ever used this vestment themselves. I’m guessing they probably inherited it from somewhere and are now hanging onto it until the day that blue might ever be approved.

  14. un-ionized says:

    Doug, where does periwinkle fit in?

    [Perhaps in a preparation of mixed shellfish.]

  15. Doug says:

    AARGH!! Another plant!! What hath God wrought? The Internet:
    Periwinkle is a color in the blue and violet family. Its name is derived from the lesser periwinkle or myrtle herb (Vinca minor) which bears flowers of the same color. The color periwinkle is also called lavender blue. The color periwinkle may be considered a pale tint of blue or a “pastel blue”.

  16. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    So, basically, you would say that deacons should not wear blue vestments when they do Anointing. Right?

    [You know, like, basically, basically is one of those words people, you know, use when, like, they have no idea what they are, you know, talking about. But, ad rem, basically, yes. Ummmm… I got lost there for a moment. Right. Deacons, unless they originate from Spanish held territories before the, you know, laws and stuff changed, should not wear blue, or cerulean, dalmatics when anointing because, basically, they should never anoint. Right?]

  17. un-ionized says:

    Doug, I remember a commercial where a guy was trying to describe a color, and two women just glanced at it and said, “PERIWINKLE!” Hilarious. This goes to that saying about men’s crayon boxes only are the 8 color ones while women have the big 64 box with the sharpener. Sea green? My parishes vestments for OT are pea green but there is also one lime chasuble for the concelebrant.

  18. un-ionized says:

    Dr. Peters, maybe Fr. Z prefers the word “essentially.”

  19. Y2Y says:

    “Doug, I remember a commercial where a guy was trying to describe a color, and two women just glanced at it and said, “PERIWINKLE!” Hilarious. This goes to that saying about men’s crayon boxes only are the 8 color ones while women have the big 64 box with the sharpener. Sea green? My parishes vestments for OT are pea green but there is also one lime chasuble for the concelebrant.”

    Men are like Windows 2.0 – we are only aware of 16 colours.

    Red is a colour. Blue is a colour. Peach is a fruit. Salmon is a fish. We have no idea what a mauve is.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  20. incorpore says:

    That’s not “baby blue” it’s “infantry blue!” (Yes, I know the root of “infantry”).

    [Well done.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  21. un-ionized says:

    I thought it was more of a cornflower blue. Oh well. Blue is blue. Makes me blue.

  22. fishonthehill says:

    Every year I read your Blue Advent rant, I so enjoy it. I read it listening to Harry Connick… Buried in Blue.

  23. Michael_Thoma says:

    Just to make you jealous, I found this picture of a Syriac Orthodox bishop offering the Divine Liturgy in Royal Blue!

  24. elijah408 says:

    What about a white vestment with blue trim? Is that legit? For example:

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