April 14, 2017

Red Mass to Be Celebrated May 3

by Hon. David E. Cain, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas

Try to imagine a world where a leader would be willing to face beheading rather than compromise his honor or the rule of law. But that’s exactly what St. Thomas More did when he was “martyred for the faith” in 1535. And that is why his namesake society in Columbus sponsors the Red Mass each year in connection with Law Day.

This year the colorful mass will be held at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3, at the beautiful St. Joseph’s Cathedral at 212 E. Broad St. The Rev. Frederick Campbell, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Columbus, will be the celebrant and homilist.

The Red Mass begins with a procession of the Columbus Police Division bag pipers and color guard, priests in red robes and judges of all levels in black robes. CBA officials, as well as judges and priests, participate in the ceremonies meant to “gather colleagues of all faiths in prayer for guidance, strength and recommitment to the highest principles of the legal profession.”

Since red is the color of blood, it’s often associated with sacrifice, danger and courage. Although all of those may apply to some degree, the “red” in Red Mass mostly refers to red as the symbol of God’s fire, the Holy Spirit.

Red Mass dates back to the middle ages in Europe and to 1928 in the U.S., commonly scheduled to coincide with the Supreme Court’s opening of a new judicial year in the Fall. The tradition was resurrected in Columbus in 1985 when the Thomas More Society was formed and Attorney Alphonse P. Cincione was elected as its first president. He remains in that position today.

The public is invited to the Mass that is followed by a reception with great hors d’oeuvres in the cathedral undercroft. Come for an uplifting experience, a restful opportunity to reflect, restore and recommit and to recognize the influence of God in our daily lives.



Hon. David E. Cain