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The Sacristy

Liturgical vestments

The term liturgical clothes, or liturgical vestments, generally indicates the clothing used by priests of various ranks in the context of religious ceremonies and festivals.

These clothes differ in various characteristics and, in particular, vary in colour, depending on the time of year and the ceremonies or holidays in progress.

But liturgical clothes are much more than simple garments, more or less ornate, worn by ministers. The mere act of wearing them has a very strong symbolic value, for both the priest and those who, seeing him so dressed, identify him as a representative of God on earth.

This is why liturgical clothing has to be unique, and differentiated from any other type of garment that a priest wears at times outside of that festival. These garments in particular belong to a sacred domain, no more or less significant than the prayers and gestures that make up the liturgy, and the many rites that characterise religious ceremonies Liturgical vestments and colors

Liturgical colours

Gold: the most solemn of colours, used all year round, even as a substitute for other liturgical colours

White: symbolises light and life, and because of this, is worn on the occasions of Baptism, at Christmas and at Easter.

Black: used above all for commemorations of the dead and for funerals.

Pink: used for the fourth Sunday of Lent and for the third Sunday of Advent.

Red: represents the colour of the blood of the Martyrs and the Holy Spirit. Used on Good Friday, Palm Sunday, Pentecost and festivals of the Holy Martyrs.

Green: the colour of renewal and life, worn every day.

Violet: symbolises hope and expectation. Used during Advent, Lent and in the liturgy of the dead.


The Sacrarium

A sacrarium is “special sink used for the reverent disposal of sacred substances. This sink has a cover, a basin, and a special pipe and drain that empty directly into the earth, rather than into the sewer system” (USCCB, Built of Living Stones, 236).

Precious or sacred items are disposed of, when possible, by returning them to the ground. Sacred books or vessels, for example, are often buried on church grounds or in a Catholic cemetery. Other items, such as altar linens, are first burned and then the ashes are buried. Liquids, rather than pouring them into sewer or septic systems, find their way to the earth by direct pouring or through the sacrarium. The water used to rinse purificators, corporals, or vessels can be poured into the sacrarium. Baptismal water, and even old holy oils, can similarly be poured into the sacrarium. If cloths are used to clean a spill of the Precious Blood, these are rinsed above the sacrarium. The Precious Blood is never poured into the sacrarium, but must be consumed (see Built of Living Stones, 236-7). What is a Sacrarium