- Also called Liturgical colors. From the most ancient times it has been customary to deck the Church's Altar with hangings of rich material which vary in color with the Church Season. As commonly used at the present time the Church colors are five in number, viz., white, red, violet, green and black. Their use may be briefly set forth as follows: White is used on all the great Festivals of our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin, and of those Saints who did not suffer martyrdom; it is also the color for All Saints' Day, and the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels; white is the symbol of joy and purity. Red is used on the Feasts of Martyrs, typifying that they shed their blood for the testimony of Jesus; it is also used at Whitsun Tide, symbolizing the cloven tongues of fire in the likeness of which the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles. Violet is the penitential color and is used in Advent, Lent, the Ember and Rogation Days, on the Feasts of the Holy Innocents, etc. Green is the ordinary color for days that are neither feasts nor Fasts as being the pervading color of nature; it is chiefly used during the Epiphany Tide and the long period of the Trinity Season. Black is made use of at funerals and on Good Friday. This use of the colors applies to the stole as well as to the Altar hangings. The black stole is always out of place, incongruous, except at funerals and on Good Friday. Where they are used, the cope, chasuble, maniple, dalmatic and tunic also vary with the Season in the same manner. The use of the Church colors, besides "decking the place of His Sanctuary" is also most helpful to the devotions of the people, in that it teaches them by the eye the various Seasons of the Church's joy or mourning.
American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. — New York, Thomas Whittaker. William James Miller, M.A., B.D.. 1901.
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