ASK FATHER: Questions about Pope Francis’ Easter Mass in St. Peter’s

I received a couple questions about the Pope’s Mass for Easter.

From a reader (this was NOT in the Ask Father Question Box… I usually ignore questions that don’t come through that link):

Was the Pope’s Easter Mass on EWTN in Latin? Might have been Italian, but I recognized the phrases from the EF.

I didn’t watch it or pay any attention to the coverage.  However, yes, the Pope’s Vigil is generally in Latin.

From a reader:

Watching the Easter Vigil this evening we saw clergy dressed in blue cassocks with red cinctures. We have not seen this color cassock used other than in Marian rites. Do you know what they represented.

As I said, above, I didn’t watch it and I’m not going to, and I’m not sure what “Marian rites” would be, but I’ll bet you that they were not blue, but rather bluish purple cassocks and, with the red fascia, they were seminarians from the Scots College.

The different national colleges (where seminarians live) in Rome have distinctive cassocks.  The Polish wear black with a green sash, Ukrainian blue with yellow, Germans red with black, etc.

It would be great to see all these cassocks return to common use.  Roman streets in the mornings and afternoons would be a lot more colorful!


I found my old list of college cassocks, somewhat dated now and there are holes.  I’d appreciate corrections.

Collegio Romano Roman Seminary: purple cassock and soprana with pendant strings, no fascia
Pontificio Pio Latino Americano: black cassock, violet fascia, a full cappa or cloak
Collegio Seminario Minore (Vatican): dark purple cassock with crimson trim and buttons, one crimson string decorated with the papal arms, shoes with silver buckles
Capranica College: black cassock, black soprana of shiny cloth, strings, no fascia, shoes with silver buckles
Propaganda Fide: black double breasted cassock, red trim and buttons, scarlet fascia and strings
German/Teutonic College: scarlet cassock, black fascia, scarlet soprana with pendant strings (because of their cassock, Romans nicknamed them “lobsters”)
Greek College: blue cassock, red fascia and pipings, blue soprana with strings or black soprana with wide sleeves when outside
English College: black cassock and soprana, black strings and no fascia
Scots College: purple cassock with crimson facsia, buttons and trim and black soprana with pendant strings
Irish College: black cassock with red piping, no fascia, black soprana and strings
French College: black cassock, no fascia
Lombard College: black cassock, violet fascia, soprana and strings
Seminary of SS. Peter and Paul: black cassock with a black fascia
Belgian College: black cassock with black fascia edged with red
North American College: double-breasted black cassock, blue piping and buttons, crimson fascia, pendant strings
South American College: black cassock with blue edgings, blue fascia, black soprana and strings
Maronite College: black cassock, soprana and strings
Czech/Bohemian College Nepomuceno: black cassock, maroon fascia edged with yellow
Armenian College: black cassock with red trim and out of doors black coat with wide sleeves
College of St Boniface: black cassock with yellow trim, black soprana with black pendant strings lined with red
Polish College: black cassock and soprana with green fascia
Spanish College:  black cassock with blue fascia, round black cape with vertical blue trim
Canadian College: black cassock no fascia
Ruthenian College: blue cassock, soprana with strings, orange fascia
Ukrainian College San Giosafat: blue cassock, yellow fascia
Philippine College: black cassock, blue fascia with red stripes
Brazilian College: black cassock, green fascia edged with yellow
Ethiopian College: black cassock, white fascia, white lining of cape or soprana
Portuguese College: black cassock, red and green fascia
Collegio Leoniano:
Mexican College:
Russian College:
Lithuanian College:
Korean College:

Note – the Soprana was a long sleeveless coat, often with two long strings or streamers hanging from the armholes to signify the state of tuition.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. alexandra88 says:

    I know several of the seminarians who served at the Vigil. They are wonderful guys and can assure you they will be great priests for Scotland.

  2. 21stCentury Anglican says:

    There was a choir of some sort which chanted something immediately after the gospel. What was that?

  3. Colm says:

    What does the NAC’s cassock look like? Or do they no longer have one?

  4. gaudete says:

    @21stCentury Anglican
    On Easter Sunday the choir of the Pontificium Collegium Russicum in Rome sang the “stichi i stichirà” in old church slavonic, a hymnic Easter praise circling around verses of Psalms 68 and 118, after the Greek repetition of the Gospel. You can find a version with lyrics in englisch here: This was done to honour the occasion of the orthodox and the catholic Easter date coinciding (next will be only in 2025).

  5. Colm: Because these USA were once mission territory and under Propaganda Fidei, the NAC cassock is similar to the Propaganda cassock, at the Urbaniana….

    …but with some variations.

    The NAC cassock is black, with the red sash, but it blue trim and buttons.  With the white collar… get it?

    I think there are very few photos of the cassock.  Here’s what I found.

  6. Discerning Altar Boy says:

    The Holy Father offered his Easter Vigil Mass in Latin and Italian, with the assistance of servers from the Scots college. The Gospel was proclaimed in Italian, with the Latin salutation and closing dialogue?. After the Gospel, there was a procession to His Holiness for the blessing with the Evangelarium. During said procession, the Alleluia was sung.
    The PNAC uses black cassocks with a triangular? collar notch, and a deep maroon fascia.
    I hope this helps everyone.

  7. Jacob says:

    I flipped past the Mass, not having time to watch it. But I did notice the crowd. For those of you who did watch, was it just due to the time I flipped past or was the crowd especially small considering it was Easter? When I stopped to look, the crowd started to rapidly peter out around the obelisk.

  8. mburn16 says:

    “For those of you who did watch, was it just due to the time I flipped past or was the crowd especially small considering it was Easter?”

    It wasn’t just you, apparently the crowd was particularly small for some reason. Per the news report I heard, only about 60K. I know that security was particularly strict this year, so it might be that a large number of people were frightened off.

  9. clarinetist04 says:

    Very informative post, Padre! thanks for sharing!

  10. gaudete says:

    @Jakob, mburn16
    Security was very tight, and surely you have noticed the sudden heavy rainfall after the homily, not quite to be expected from the blue sky earlier that morning? I’d understand anyone, soaked and wet to the bones, that then felt chilly and left…

  11. pelerin says:

    I have two coloured postcards published some 100 years ago which are probably from a larger set. One bears the caption of ‘Studenti del Collegio Americano del nord’ and the other ‘Studenti del Collegio Germanico’. (I can see why the German students were nicknamed ‘lobsters!)

    Both cards are artist drawn and the amusing thing is that the designs are identical with the same group of students depicted – only the colour of their cassocks has been changed. A clever publishing ploy to appeal to as many buyers as possible. I wonder how many cards are actually in the set and whether perhaps there was one for each of the national colleges all perhaps with the same design.

  12. YellowRoses says:

    My first thought is: pure geekery. I love all the distinctive cassocks! (I’m just wondering why this was the norm? Are the different cassocks just like different colors for secular schools & colleges?)

    To add to your list, Father.
    The new St. Joseph College Seminary (Minor) in Charlotte, NC: Black cassock, green fascia, red piping (?) they explain it in the website:
    The type of collar is unique to St. Joseph Seminary as it has three red diagonal lines on the right and left. These red cords are then drawn together by a seventh which continues wrapping down the right side. These are symbolic of the virtues which clothe a new man in Christ, namely justice, prudence, fortitude, temperance, faith and hope, with charity as the form of the virtues which draws them all together and gives them their end, namely, friendship with God.

  13. Gabriel Syme says:

    In the picture Fr Z has posted of the 4 Scots seminarians – the shortest one, 2nd from right, is now Fr Michael Kane, Parish Priest of St Augustine’s Church, Coatbridge, Scotland, UK.

    It is the parish I grew up in (though before Fr Kane’s time, of course) and where my mother is still resident. I also went to the associated Primary School, which has apparently declined in quality although the Parish is still in good health. Fr Kane is very popular.

    Coatbridge is the only town in the UK which has a majority of Catholic residents. It is part of the Diocese of Motherwell, the most vigorous Diocese of Catholic Scotland (which, in truth, isn’t saying much!). A town of some 40,000 people, Coatbridge has 9 (count ’em) Catholic parishes and forms a Deanery of the Diocese in its own right.

    Part of the town is known as Monklands, a reference to the fact that Cistercian Monks owned the land in the pre-reformation period. Much later, the town received many Irish immigrants who came for work, (there used to be steel works, a canal and mines), and today it is thought that in excess of 50% of the town’s modern population can demonstrate some level of Irish ancestry.

    The town motto is “Laborare Est Orare” – to work is to pray – which comes from St Benedict.

    Sorry to waffle on, but its not every day you discover the unassuming Parish and town where you grew up has been propelled to global fame, thanks to Fr Z! Every dog has its day I suppose!

    I am sure Father Kane will be delighted to hear of his appearance on this blog!

  14. Titus says:

    I was at the Easter morning Mass in St. Peter’s Square. I was not at and did not see the Vigil, but on Easter morning:

    1) The Mass was in Latin; the gospel was sung first in Latin and then in Greek.

    2) The Pope’s homily was in Italian. I think he said something about us being sad, again.

    3) The crowd seemed quite small, even before it rained.

    4) I stayed for the Urbi et Orbi, but if the pope said “benedicat in nomine Patre …,” I sure missed it.

Comments are closed.