Saturday, July 28, 2007


These colors may not be used in liturgy, but they are still very important colors as far as understanding the symbolic language of the Church.

Blue is the color of truth and heaven. This is the color that appears in the sky when the clouds clear away giving us the idea of the unveiling of truth. Christ is often depicted wearing a blue mantle during His teaching ministry. Mary is seen in blue when she holding Jesus or with Him any time before His Passion. It is also a general color of Mary.

Brown symbolizes either spiritual death and derogation or renunciation of worldly wealth. It is also a symbol of humility along with the sparrow whose brown feathers are not as colorful and elaborate as other birds. It is easy to see why this would be the color of the habit of so many Franciscans.

Gray was once a liturgical color used during lent but it is no more. It denotes mourning and humility, death of the body and the immortality of the soul. In art Christ is often depicted wearing this color at the Last Judgment.

Yellow can have two meanings; one positive and the other negative. A golden yellow suggests holiness or even divinity. Part of Saint Joseph’s traditional color scheme is yellow denoting his holiness.

But yellow can also have a sickly quality and can be used to suggest infernal light, derogation, jealousy, treason and deceit. Judas is often depicted wearing this dingy yellow. In the Middle Ages heretics were forced to wear yellow and in periods of plague, yellow crosses marked the contaminated.

As stated before, color symbolism changes within the context they are being used. For example, in the Eastern Catholic Church, many times liturgical colors have to do with brightness rather than specific color (according to the late great Fr. John Keblesh, Byzantine priest). Some of these different schemes will be explored later on also.

Here are the answers to yesterday's quiz:

1. True.
2. False. They are interchangable only for masses of the dead.
3. False. It is also used on Laetare Sunday in Lent.
4. False. The color is amaranth red
5. True.
6. True. (See above.)
7. True. Though I don't recommend the combination for anyone else.
8. False.
9. False. Blue is not a liturgical color.

And as far as I can tell, MJ came the closest to getting all of the answers correct of those brave enough to post your answers! Congratulations.


Adoro said...


On yellow: Last December, Cathy_of_Alex and I went to the Mpls Inst. of Arts to view a particular exhibit, which happened to have a lot of religious art. There was one painting portraying, I think, Jesus and the blind man (not sure which one), and we were trying to figure out who everyone was. I remember my lesson from my H.S. humanities class and pointed out Judas, who, of course, was clothed in yellow. It was fascinating to be able to take what little I knew about the symbolism in colors and apply it to real art because it is almost universal in religious art.

Anyway, I'd learned about yellow when having to prepare a report on the painting in this post:

And I've never forgotten it. I actually just went and re-read that post and it seems there's a lot more to be said, which is no surprise. If I ever repost this one, some editing might be in order.

Thanks, Fr. V.!

Odysseus said...


Cathy said...

Thanks, Father, that's very, very interesting. I particularly liked the part about Judas and yellow.