Why...Do Priests Wear Black?

Why Do Priests Wear Black?

Up until the 12th and 13th centuries, outside of the context of the Eucharistic Liturgy, the Catholic priest did not dress any differently than every other man in society. The first semblance of clerical garb was the Roman cassock, which today seems like a "fancy" garb for a priest to be wearing, but in reality was donned by the priest because of its simplicity; not only was the style and the fabric itself very inexpensive and ordinary but the color black itself was abundantly available so its cost was minimal. It was (and still very much is) also a color that stood out in the multitude so that those who may desire to seek out a priest could do so; simply being seen reminds the people of the world not of who the individual priest is (because the majority of the people in the world have no idea who I am!), but rather of the presence of God in the world through the priesthood. 

What began as a very practical choice (choosing black because it cost was minimal and the fact that it is easily visible) also provided some deep theological reflection as well. The color black is often associated with humility, simplicity, but most commonly associated with death. The priest is called to "die to himself" each day so as to allow God to increase more and more in his life. Only the priest can act in persona Christi and the black is a reminder of that profound and deeply humbling reality. Every time you see a priest donning his black clerical attire in public, pray for him and for all priests that they may have the fortitude to "die to themselves" each day so as to serve the people of God with their whole self...we count on your prayers and you can count on ours! 

In Christ & Mary,

Father Silva


Fr. Silva's Blog

The Catholic Ramblings of Parish Priest


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