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The profound symbolism of violet and rose in Advent

Photo: Pascal Deloche Godong

Even blue and red, the colours that make violet, have spiritual symbolism!

Advent is a special time of preparation in the liturgical year, focusing our hearts on the celebration of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem as well as looking forward to when Jesus will come again. To remind us of these and many other spiritual truths, the Church has chosen the colour violet to be the primary colour of Advent.Violet has a long history and was a rare colour in the ancient world, not easily made into dye that could be used with clothing. While it was traditionally connected to kings and royalty, it also became associated with penance, making it a somber colour and chosen by the Church for penitential seasons.

In an issue of The American Ecclesiastical Review (printed in 1902), the author gives a unique explanation behind the reason why violet and rose were chosen for Advent.

Violet vestments signify on the whole Sorrow, and are meant to inspire a grave and thoughtful attitude in the faithful who attend the liturgical services. If you mix blue and red in liquid colours you obtain violet. Blue is the colour of heaven and suggests that our thoughts turn away from earth. Red is the colour of martyrdom, of blood, and of the flame which consumes the sacrifice. A combination of the two, which makes violet, is, therefore, indicative of sacrifice with a view to heaven, unselfish devotion.

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