Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Bi-Annual Discussion of "Rose" or the Liturgical Colour of Rosacea

With it being Laetare Sunday, we would be remiss to not mention the bi-annual discussion of the question of what precisely constitutes the liturgical colour of rose. To begin with, I shall point you here to our recent Gaudete Sunday considerations, in particular to the section on "What Colour is Rose?": The Liturgical Colour of Rose: A Consideration.

One might wonder why this topic should arise so frequently, but it does seem relevant to consider, particularly as many parishes and chapels today do not have a set of rose vestments, and may be looking for guidance on acquiring or commissioning a set. In point of fact then, the discussion not only gives an opportunity to consider what might be some of the most edifying expressions, or what elements work best together, but it also gives an opportunity to encourage the use of rose on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays generally.

As regards what might work best together, I have often proposed that rose with noticeably purple undertones is certainly one particularly appropriate expression as it helps link the colour of this Sunday back to the dominant colour of violet used throughout the rest of the liturgical season that surrounds it. Some, however, prefer something that is a bit more distinctive and as regards the lighter or brighter variants of rose, my experience is that these tend to work particularly well when these colours are broken up by other patterns and colours, making the overall appearance more nuanced and subtle. (Some examples will follow below.)

Now, as for making a point of acquiring rose vestments, sometimes there are other priorities that get in the way of acquiring a rose set of course, and this is evidently not unreasonable. But once any truly pressing matters have been dealt with, (or even more ideally, if some lay benefactor comes forward with an offer) I would certainly encourage our priests to make a point of acquiring a proper rose set, for even while they are used only twice within the liturgical year, we should do what can to live the liturgical life and seasons of the Church to their fullest expression.

To further inspire these considerations, I thought I would share what I see as some of the nicer variants on rose vestments, culled over the past couple of years. Perhaps these will give some ideas to some of our priests or benefactors.

(This is probably the single nicest rose vestment I have seen, and the image comes to us courtesy of Fr. Zuhlsdorf of WDTPRS. I believe the vestment belongs to the ICRSS in Rome, or at least one of the ICRSS priests who was in Rome. This rose is of the "rose madder" of a very bright variety, which has strong reddish undertones and it works particularly well with the silver throughout.)

(The next set comes to us courtesy of Michael Sternbeck of the Saint Bede Studio and represents the dustier form of rose madder with more in the way of purple undertones.)

(An 18th century Rose vestment shows a lighter rose hue, but one which is still quite edifying, particularly in combination with the patterns within the fabric which helps to soften it)

Finally, two others from within a liturgical context:

(This is difficult to see close-up, but from a distance, it certainly looks quite edifying and dignified.)

(Another example of a lighter colour of rose, but broken up by other patterns and colours. It works quite well.)

(This vestment constitutes another brighter form of rose, broken up, again, by other colours and patterns and silver galloons.)

I hope these will spur some discussions and considerations. Feel free to submit your rose vestments to me today for consideration if you have them.


Mulier Fortis sends to us some images from Fr. Finigan's Solemn Mass of Laetare Sunday with the new vestments he recently commissioned from Luzar Vestments. Here are a few:

Fr. Finigan will apparently be putting up other, higher resolution photographs of his Mass today on his blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity.


Jackie Parkes, of Catholic Mom of 10, sends in some photos from the Birmingham Oratory.

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