CHAPTER III. Colors.
1. Colors Used. — 2. Regulars. — 3. Black. — 4. Purple. — 5. A Very Common Error. . . .— 6. White. —7. Scarlet Red. — 8. Amaranth Red. — 9. Other Colors.
1. The colors adopted for the ecclesiastical costume are: White, Red, Purple and Black. To these colors proper for the secular clergy, must be added the different colors fixed for the Religious Orders by their respective Constitutions. (a)
2. We have previously remarked that when a member of some Religious Order is promoted to the Cardinalate or episcopal dignity, he must retain, for his prelatical costume, the color used for the habit of the Order to which he belongs. However, he may adopt a finer material and the shape of the costume of secular Prelates. We speak here of the Religious Orders properly so-called only, as Benedictines, Carmelites, Franciscans, Dominicans, etc. The Clerics Regular, as Jesuits, Redemptorists, Theatines,etc, when promoted to prelatical rank, adopt for their costume that of secular Prelates, without, however, being allowed to use silk, except for the cincture, skull-cap and other small accessories. (b)
3. Since the seventeenth century, Hack is the obligatory color for the clothing of the secular clergy of second rank in all the Western Church. (c) There is no exception to this general regulation, save for the clergy of tropical countries, who are permitted to wear white clothes on account of the exceedingly hot climate; and for seminarians and members of the Bishop's household, who should wear a purple cassock.
Prelates, Bishops and the members of the Sacred College also use black (d) for their everyday costume (and their street-dress in Catholic countries); but their black dress is trimmed with red or purple, according to their rank in the hierarchy, and the different seasons of the ecclesiastical year, as will be explained further on.
4. Purple, or violet, is a sign both of Prelature and of Livery. It especially characterizes the Prelature and the Episcopacy; but as it is an official dress, it can be worn only in church and on certain well defined occasions.
Purple is the proper color to be used by Cardinals in times of penance and mourning, while Bishops should, at such times, make use of black only. The general rule holds good, that when Cardinals exchange their red costume for purple, Bishops exchange their purple for black. (e)
5. It is an error to suppose that a purple cassock is exclusively a prelatical privilege. It is likewise the color reserved for ecclesiastical Livery.
First of all, it is the color used by the whole Pontifical Household. (f) With the exception of the Bussolanti, who are clad in red, all others, no matter what their rank, dignity or employment at the Papal Court, Prelates, ushers of the palace, chanters, clerics, acolytes of the Papal chapel, chamber valets, etc., all wear purple as a distinctive sign of their rank, dignity or office. (g)
Secondly, purple is the color of the episcopal Livery. Thus, according to rules laid down by the Ceremonials, (h)
Masters of Ceremonies of the cathedral church, the train-bearer of the Bishop, (i) the cross-bearer of the Metropolitan, (j) all the members of the diocesan Seminary, as well as the employees of the cathedral, namely, sacristans, ushers, chanters, etc., all wear purple.
The use of purple for the collaro, belt, and stockings, is an exclusive prelatial privilege, and the purple skull-cap and purple biretta are exclusive episcopal insignia. Therefore, those who may wear a purple cassock as a livery costume are never allowed to wear a purple collaro, or purple stockings, much less a purple skull-cap or a purple biretta.
6. White is reserved for the Pope. He uses it for his cassock, simar and other ordinary clothing. But he uses red for his cloak, mozzetta, hat and shoes. (k)
7. Scarlet red is proper for Cardinals. (l)
8. Bishops and the Prelates di mantelletta may use amaranth red for the trimmings of their black dress, such as buttons, buttonholes, lining, etc. The trimmings of their purple dress are of crimson red. At all times, the same accessories must be purple in the dress of the Prelates di mantellone; and, for Bishops, in penitential seasons and on occasions of mourning.
9. Other colors that may be met with in some places are worn through special privileges granted by the Sovereign Pontiff, or in virtue of immemorial customs.
(a) Benedict XIII., Const. cit.— Ferraris, Bibliotheca, art Episcopus.
(b) Caer. Episc, I., 1., 4.
(c) Decree of Pope Urban VIII. (Novem. 26, 1624).
(d) Cf. Un Eveque Suffragant, Ceremonial des Eveques commente et explique, p. 13.
(e) Barbier de Montault, op. cit, Tom. I., p. 58.
(f) Grimaldi, Les congregations romainee, ch. V.
(g) Barbier de Montault, op. cit, Tom. I., p. 58.
(h) Caer. Episc. I., v., 4.—S. R. C., February 29, 1868—Dec. 14, 1894.
(i) Levavasseur-Haegy, Fonctions Pontificales, II., p. 273.—S. R. C., Aug. 2, 1608.—Jan. 24, 1660.
(j) Levavasseur-Haegy, Fonctions Pontificales, II., p. 805.
(k) All Ceremonials in loco. — Barbier de Montault, op. cit., Tom. I., p. 57. —Baron Geramb, Visit to Rome, Letter X., pp. 98-104.— Fisquet, Ceremonies de Rome (passim).
(l) Decree of Innocent IV. (1244).—Decree of Boniface VIII. (1248). — Barbosa, Iuris eccles. univ., Lib. I., Cap. III., n. 8.