The Tradition of Red Mass
Red Mass will be Friday, January 11, 2019 at noon at teh Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Here's where the tradition comes from...
The custom of solemn Mass invoking the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the judicial year originated in the 13th century. From the time of Edward I, the Mass was offered at Westminster Abbey at the opening of the Michaelmas term. It came to be called the “Red Mass” from the red Mass vestments and from the scarlet robes of the Lord High Justices and the university professors. Today the Catholic judges assemble at Westminster Cathedral for the Red Mass while the Anglican and jurists worship at Westminster Abbey.
In France the observance was held at the Sainte-Chapelle, until the government secularized it in 1906, and the Messe Rouge was transferred to aint-Germain-l'Auxerrois. The Red Mass has also been traditionally identified with the Sacred Roman Rota, the high appellate court of the Catholic Church.
The first Red Mass in America was at old St. Andrew's Church in New York City on October 6, 1928. The custom has spread to other cities, and not only Catholic, but many Protestant and Jewish judges and lawyers have also adopted the custom of attending.
The Red Mass is offered to invoke the Holy Spirit as the source of the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and fortitude, for the dispensing of justice in the courtroom and in the lawyer's office. Since the judicial year is no longer so clearly defined, the Red Mass is offered in some places as part of the observance of Law Day, while in other areas it is still offered at the beginning of the fall term. Our Red Mass is in observance of Court Opening.