The difference between Roman Catholic and Maronite Church liturgical colours

The Maronite and Roman Catholic Church have different seasons and a different yearly liturgical cycle. Some of those seasons such as Lent and the Birth of Our Lord overlap in certain aspects.

The Roman Catholic Church mandates certain colours for the seasons. They are as follows;

White or gold is used during major feasts such as Christmas, Easter, major feast days, celebrations of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Angels, of Saints who were not martyrs, and on the Solemnity of All Saints. White symbolises the Resurrection and is often used for funerals.

Purple or violet is used during the seasons of Advent and Lent. The colour of Advent is more of a rose-purple or pink.

Green is generally used during the Ordinary Time.

Red is used on Palm Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, and for celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is also worn on the feast days of martyrs.

The situation in the Maronite Church is not as straight forward and there are no strict rules as in the Roman Catholic Tradition. The Maronite colours are divided into light or dark to reflect the season or feast. Dark is obviously used for the penitential times such as Great Lent and Good Friday. You will often see purple used in Maronite Church during Lent and black on Good Friday.

White or gold is used in the glorious times such as the Resurrection, Christmas, Epiphany and the Holy Cross. You will often also see red used during Pentecost and sometimes even during Epiphany to signify the Holy Spirit.

It is interesting to note that from about the thirteenth century the Maronites, in particular in relation to vestments, underwent significant Latinisation. There has been, especially in relation to vestments a significant de-Latinisation since that time. The priests vestments are visibiliy different to the Roman Catholics.

The Maronite stole is joined with a clasp unlike the Roman Catholic stole which is not joined. A belt of the same material as the stole goes around the waste and a cope goes over the Maronite vestments with a clasp on the neck.

The Maronite Synod of 2004 stated in relation to Maronite vestments:

’59. The liturgical vestment is an important element of the liturgical celebration. For this reason, the holy Patriarchal Synod recommends that the vestments to be used should be neat, beautiful and of a noble simplicity without any excess, inspired by the authentic liturgical vestment of the Syro-Antiochene rite, and compatible with the ritual function of the liturgical celebration.

Moreover, the Synod orders that the liturgical vestment be unified in such a way that it will be the same used in all rituals and liturgical celebrations. The bishop has his proper vestment, the priest celebrant has his, the assistant priest has his own liturgical vestment, the deacon, sub-deacon, the reader and cantor should wear each one his liturgical vestment proper to him. Consequently, the synod enjoins everyone to observe the directives issued by the patriarchal commission for liturgical matters approved by the Synod of Bishops headed by the Patriarch.’

This photo of Monsignor Shora Maree celebrating Mass, demonstrates the vestments of a Maronite Priest.

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