Why Your Priest is Wearing Pink: The Secrets of Laetare Sunday

Mcginley1, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

This weekend, you might notice your priest is wearing… pink?

Yes, the color is technically “rose,” but you can be forgiven for not noticing the difference. So what’s going on?

Here’s what you need to know:

1) This Sunday is about halfway through Lent

The exact halfway point in Lent is actually the Thursday before this Sunday, but since Christians gather on Sundays the halfway point is marked on that day instead.

2) The “rose” color is meant to be encouraging

Lent is long and penitential. Since this Sunday is about halfway, the Church tries to give people encouragement to make it through the rest of Lent. The use of the rose color, rather than the normal violet for Lent, is brighter and is supposed to be a happy difference during Lent.

3) “Laetare” comes from the Latin introit

This Sunday is often called “Laetare Sunday” since “laetare,” which means “rejoice,” is the first word in the Latin version of the introit, or a short Psalm that can be read at the beginning of Mass.

The introit begins, “Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam,” which is translated, “Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her…” This comes from Isaiah 66.10.

4) This Sunday has all sorts of other names 

These include: Refreshment Sunday, Rose Sunday, Mid-Lent Sunday, Sunday of the Five Loaves, and even Mothering Sunday.

5) “Mothering Sunday” comes from an ancient practice

There used to be a tradition that Christians would give an offering to their mother church, or cathedral church, on this Sunday.

6) “Rose Sunday” comes from an old custom from the popes

You might think the term “Rose Sunday” comes from the use of the rose color on this Sunday, and that might be part of the reason. But another reason is that there was medieval custom that on this Sunday the Pope would bless an assortment of roses made of gold, which he would then send as gifts to Catholic rulers and churches as gifts.

Have a happy and holy Laetare Sunday!

[See also: A Priest’s Reminder: Sundays Are a Whole DAY for God, Not Just an Hour]

[See also: “Need Confession?”: Priest’s Sign on University Campus Goes Viral]