History of Liturgical colours
Colours have always been associated with human emotions, from warm to exciting and much more. The Colour of the spectrum has physiological significance, so it's not surprising that colours also have catholic history. Proper use of colours in the church can lift the spirits of people and priests instantly. All the church vestures bring their effect with colour and texture, every year the church follows a sequence of colours for particular feasts. You might have seen it during your visit to church. However, do you know early Christians had no association or colour system with seasons nor did they have traditional rules for colours? So, how did liturgical colours find their way in history?
The beginning of liturgical colours in Catholics
Evidence from Theodoret, Ecclesiastical history book can be made that Constantine, the Roman emperor gave a sacred robe to bishop Macarius of Jerusalem made with golden threads. Later in the 9th-century, Frankish churches inventory reveal a variety of colours being used for vestments. However, there was not any particular sequence for use. The sequence colour of the Roman Catholic Church can be traced to 1198, pope innocent III. The first liturgical use is known in the 12th century, written by crusaders for the church at Jerusalem. Pope Innocent III described the use of five colours - white, Red, black, violet, and green.
White was used for all feasts for lords as a symbol of purity. Red was used as a symbol of bloody passion during feasts of the holy cross, martyrs, and apostles. It was also used at Pentecost when the Apostles received their Holy Spirit. Black has been the symbol of mourning on penitence and fasting days, and also for the time of commemorations of the departed. Violet on the other hand has been the mitigation of black, which can be used during lent and Advent. Green though doesn't have any special significance, can be worn on days other than the specified colours, its compromise colour gives distinctive features from other colours - white, black, red, violet.
Later during the Middle Ages, other colours such as blue for feasts of Virgin Mary, rose colour- mitigation for violet was used on 4th Sunday in lent and 3rd Sunday in Advent. In 1570, the pope prescribed the colour sequence of Innocent III with rose colour on two Sundays. The congregation of riles in 1868 allowed the use of gold in place of white vestments.
How are these colours used for vestments?
Though specified significance is prescribed for the use of colours so, vestment makers cannot use anything other than that. However, they are allowed to use shades and tints of these colours for vestment. Therefore, the colour scheme and combination of colours for vestment usually revolve around tints and shades of white, red, blue, green, violet, black, and some use of gold.
When were Liturgical colours used, or what is the legislation to use them?
The colours prescribed by Innocent III have formed the basis of modern practice. These colours today are used for particular days and occasions to relate to these cultural significances and bring priests, the people of the Church a different feel connected to God and Psychology. White colour is used for Sundays in Eastertide, funeral masses, on Solemnities of our Lord as symbol of purity, blessed Virgin Mary. Red is used for martyrs, Apostles' feasts, and Pentecost. Green can be used on Sunday in ordinary or regular times. Violet is reserved for Advent and lent. The Rose colour has been practised for the 3rd Sunday of Advent also called Gaudete Sunday, and the 4th Sunday of lent also called Laetare Sunday since the 13th century.
What type of Vestments are affected by Liturgical colours?
The liturgical colours influenced various vestments and drapery, including the burse and chalice veil, the antependium of the altar. The stole, tunic, maniple, dalmatic, brode stole and folded chasuble.
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