Annual Red Mass set for May 4th
The annual diocesan Red Mass will be celebrated at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 4, at Columbus St. Joseph Cathedral, 212 E. Broad St. Bishop Frederick Campbell will be the principal celebrant and homilist.
The diocesan St. Thomas More Society has sponsored the Mass every year since 1985. Its purpose is to ask God’s blessing on the judicial system and on people in decision-making positions in all branches of government. All judicial officers in Franklin County have been invited to wear their robes and to be part of the procession to the altar with the bishop.
The Mass gets its name from the red vestments worn by the ministers. It is a Mass of the Holy Spirit, whose traditional color in the Church is red, representing the tongues of fire which marked the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles at Pentecost.
Red also was the color of judges’ robes in many nations of Europe, where the tradition began. The first documented Red Mass was celebrated in 1245 in Paris. As of 1310, the Mass had become an annual tradition in England at the start of each new court term. It spread from there through Europe and eventually to the Vatican, where it marks the opening of the judicial year of the Roman Rota, the Tribunal of the Holy See.
The Red Mass was introduced into the United States in 1928 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The first Red Mass in Washington, D.C., was celebrated in 1953.
The most significant difference between a Red Mass and a traditional Mass is that the focus of prayer and blessings is on the leadership roles of those in attendance. Guidance from the Holy Spirit is asked to be bestowed on all in the congregation. Other blessings requested to prevail in the minds, offices, and courtrooms of all present are divine strength, wisdom, truth, and justice.
The Thomas More Society, for Catholic practitioners of the legal profession, was named in honor of St. Thomas More, the lord chancellor of England who was martyred in 1535 for refusing to acknowledge King Henry VIII as head of the Church in that nation.
For more information about the society, contact its president, attorney Alphonse Cincione, at (614) 221-3151.