Colors, Ecclesiastical

Colors, Ecclesiastical The following details are from Walcott, Sac. Archaeol. s.v.: "In some foreign churches the dignity of feasts was attempted to be shown by a graduated scale of colors. A curious analogy has been traced between the three common chord notes, the third, fifth, and eighth, and the three primary colors of the solar ray; also of the seven notes of the major diatonic scale and the colors of the solar spectrum, so that various instruments have being geniously represented as colors — the oboe as yellow, the flute white, the trumpet scarlet, etc. "Jerome mentions that one dress was worn in sacred ministrations, and another in ordinary life; and pope Stephen III enjoined the ecclesiastical vestments to beh used only in church. Possibly about the 6th century the fashion of vestments became fixed. Salvian, Paulinus of Nola, and pope Celestine, in 428, allude to the adoption of a distinct dress by priests. In France it was the practice in, the 5th century; and the monks, by the adoption of a habit, promoted the movement. At Constantinople, in the 4th century, the Catholics wore black, and the Novatians white, out of doors. Chrysostom celebrated in white, which he mentions as the church-dress. In the early times of the church white was used, certainly in the 4th century, as appears from the writings of Jerome, Gregory of Tours, Isidore of Seville, and Fortnnatus. Anastatius speaks of it in the lives of Popes Leo III and IV, Gregory IV, and Sergius II; and in the mosaics at St. Paul's without, at Rome, white robes, sometimes adorned with bands of violet or gold, appear, as worn by the early popes. From the 9th century red, blue, and green were gradually permitted in vestments, but prescript colors were not generally adopted until the 11th or 12th century, white being retained for the amice, alb, surplice, and the cope and chasuble on feasts of the Nativity, Epiphany, All-Saints, and St. John the Baptist. They are first mentioned by the author of the l'Treatise on Divine Offices about the 1lth century, and afterwards in the 13th century, by Duranduss, bishop of Mende, and Innorcent III. The Greeks, about the same period, adopted these colors, reserving red, however, for fast-days and memorials of saints. The Greek Church requires white at Christmas, Epiphany, and Easter; blue or violet in Prassioln Week, in Advent, Lent, and at burials; and white and green at Pentecost. No doubt the common color for altar-cloths which is red, and the ordinary color of the Salisbury rite was observed in England, owing to the Sarum use being prescribed for the whole southern province in 1541. The national custom differed greatly from the Roman, as in the use of red instead of violet on Sundays in Lent, and from Septuagesima to Easter, on Ash- Wednesday, Monday-Thursday, Good-Friday, and the Great Saturday, or Easter eve, on Sunday in Trinity, and in processions; while gold color was used instead of white on confessors' days. "Festivals were usually distinguished by white, as emblematical of the purity of the life of saints, although sometimes by red, as symbolical of the heroism of the death of martyrs. Catechumens wore white robes during the octave after their baptism. The pope wears white; and on great days the bishop's chair was draped in white to represent divine truth. The dead were wrapped in white, in memory of our Lord's winding-sheet. Violet, mentioned by Durandus, in addition to white, red, black, and green, was used on common days, and in Advent, Lent, and on vigils, as the penitential color nearest to black. Violet, worn on Embers and vigils, being a mixture of black for sorrow and red for love, betokens penitence, grief for sins, inspired by the love of Christ. Our Lord wears violet sometimes, as a type of the Man of Sorrows. Nuns wore violet; so did Benedictine abbots until recent times, and penitents in primitive times. Violet was the color of the parchment used for church books in the time of Jerome, and at a later date. Violet typified truth, deep love, and humility. Jaenth represents Christian prudence; purple royalty and justice. At burials, masses for the dead, and on Good- Friday, black is worn. By the Salisbury use, crocus or safron, gold color, is prescribed on feasts of the confessors, as emblematical of the preciousness of their faith; but at Laon on Good-Friday, in allusion to the envy of the Jews. Pale yellow, as in the dress of Judas, signifies deceit. Red, by the Salisbury use, was enjoined on Ash-Wednesday, Sundays in Lent, and the three latter days of Holy Week, as the symbol of sin (Isa 1:18); as the sign of majesty and might on Sundays (Isa 58:1); and of blood, in the commemoration of the passion, death, and burial of our crucified Lord; and so on Good-Friday at Biourges, Sells, Mans, and by the Ambrosian rite. The latter requires it also on Corpus Christi, as the great mystery of Christ's love, and, like the Church of Lyons, on the Circumcision, in memory of the first shedding of his blood, and.the first act of his love; whereas the Roinaln use employs white onl the former day, an allusion to the mystery of faith; red on Pentecost personifies, the divine love of the Holy Spirit; and in funeral services of the Greeks, and the ancient rites of France, and by the pope on Good-Friday, as showing that love is the cause of their sorrow. Red is the ordinary color of the Salisbury and Amubrosian rites, as green is of the Roman. Red was used in Lent, being the vigil of the Passion, fiom Septuagesima to Easter eve, at Bourges, Nevers, Sells, and Maans. Black chasubles with red orphreys were used from Passion-Sunday to Easter at Paris, and at funerals in parts of Germany and Flanders. Red and white were the Dominical colors in England. Martyrs were buried in a scarlet colobium or dalmatic, the symbol of charity and blood-shedding. Blue (indicum, blodium) was worn on the Continent, like violet, on All- Saints' Day, in Advent, and on Septuagesima, and on feasts of St. Mary, as in Englaud, in Spain, and Naples. It was probably used at Salisbury on ferials in Advent. Our Lord and the Virgin Mary wear red and blue. Blue, the color of heaven, was the emblem of piety, sincerity, godliness, contemplation, expectation, love of heavenly things."

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