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The Liturgical Colors–What Do They Mean?

What do the different colors used by the priest signify?

As outlined by the Church, different colors represent different liturgical seasons. Since around the sixth century, the primary liturgical colors have been greenwhitepurplered and black.


Green signifies Ordinary Time in the Church. It must be noted that the shades of green can vary. For instance, the green of spring is a different shade than that of November as the Church year ends.


Purple is worn during Advent and Lentrepresenting the penitential sense of those seasons. Similar to purple is the color rose, which is worn just two Sundays throughout the year. First is the Third Sunday of Advent, otherwise known as Gaudete Sunday. During Lent it is worn during the Fourth Sunday, otherwise known as Laetare Sunday.


White denotes times of great celebration as seen in the Christmas and Easter seasons. White vestments are also worn at baptisms, weddings, ordinations and feast days of the Lord, the Blessed Mother and saints who are not martyrs.


Red implies the blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit and the martyrs. It is put on by the priest on Pentecost and for confirmations.


Black, rarely seen, can be worn during the Office of the Dead. It may also be worn on Good Friday.

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