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The Advent Season: Why Priests Wear Purple Liturgical Vestments

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Pope Benedict XVI celebrating the Mass in purple vestments.
Image source: Orbis Catholicus

The Advent season is on its way. This means that within the Church, changes will have to be made—especially with the vestments. Typically, liturgical vestments change according to liturgical seasons. This means that during Advent, priests will have to don new attire.

Why exactly do they have to wear different vestments for different seasons? Does it make sense that they have to change vestment colors from time to time? Well, below is why ministers wear different colors of vestments—in this case, during Advent, which is fast approaching.

During the Advent season, priests of the Roman Rite will wear purple vestments to celebrate the mood of the seasons. Since Advent prepares us for the Christmas season, being a season of joy, the lush purple color is made to embody that sort of joy which we feel in preparation for commemorating the birth of Christ.

In the early periods, purple dye was very expensive and only a privileged few could afford to wear clothes dyed in purple. It was a color reserved for royalty. As such, with Jesus Christ considered by Christians as a king, it is well-suited that a minister of Christ wear purple when celebrating the liturgy.

In the Lenten season, purple is also used and this has caused confusion among churchgoers. As such, there are instances when vestments of either seasons are changed to blue, although there's been no universal approval of this.

However, when it comes to the color purple, there is a difference between that which is used during Advent and that of Lent. Lent’s purple color is similar to what we see in the sky during sunrise, embodying mankind’s excitement for the birth of Jesus Christ.

During Advent, purple vestments are only worn during Sunday Masses and Ferias such as Ash Wednesday. Outside such days, priests can simply wear Ordinary Time vestments.

Colors can symbolize many things and purple perfectly embodies the atmosphere of Advent. It’s therefore important to know what the colors during the Mass signify and how important they are to the faithful in church.


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