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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. A friend of mind said he was going to a "red Mass." I never heard such an expression. Is there really a "red Mass?" And if there is, what is a "red Mass?"

A. 1. To answer your question, yes, there is such a thing as a "red Mass." A Red Mass is a Mass that is celebrated every year in the Catholic Church for judges, lawyers, law school professors, law students, and government officials.

According to the Archdiocese of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, "The Red Mass is a Mass celebrated in honour of the legal profession as a vocation in the service of justice and the common good. It is one of the traditions through which the Church has blessed and strengthened the legal profession. The grace given to the members of the legal profession by God and the teachings of the Catholic Church help guide us towards the goals of fairness and justice."

"The first recorded Red Mass was celebrated in Paris in 1245. This Red Mass, so-called for the red vestments traditionally worn by celebrants as a symbol of the tongues of fire that descended on the Apostles during Pentecost, spread throughout Europe and continued around the world. Today Red Masses are held in cities annually, including cities across Canada such as Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec. Red Masses are attended by leading figures across the legal, political and professional fields, and remain an important occasion for Catholic lawyers to connect with their faith community. One of the largest is held in Washington, D.C., at the beginning of the U.S. Supreme Courtís annual term. This Red Mass is attended by Catholic and non-Catholic justices as well as members of both Houses of Congress."

[Source: Archdiocese of Vancouver; http://rcav.org/red-mass/]

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