April 25, 2008
Red Mass on May Day -- open to all
The Thomas More Society will sponsor the annual Red Mass on May 1, 5:15 pm at St. Joseph Cathedral, Bishop Frederick Campbell presiding. All are welcome to attend. There will be a reception in the undercroft after the Mass.
The Red Mass is like any Roman Catholic Mass but focuses prayers and blessings on the leadership roles of judges and other public officials. Prayers ask all those present to be open to Divine strength, wisdom, truth, and justice. Columbus Bar President Nelson Genshaft will read the proclamation prior to the Mass.
The Red Mass got its name from the red vestments worn by royal judges participating in the Pope’s tribunal. Today the red vestments symbolize the Holy Spirit in the Roman Catholic ritual. The first Red Mass was believed to be held around 1200. As of 1310 the Mass had become an annual tradition in England to commemorate the beginning of each new court term. The tradition was adopted in the United States in 1928 in New York and celebrated intermittently.
Since 1953 Red Masses have been held annually in Washington DC to mark the beginning of the Supreme Court’s term. The initiating of this tradition in the 50’s coincided with the uniting of Catholic and Protestant theologians and leaders in religious tolerance and in opposition to Communism. Today the Red Mass is celebrated annually in more than half of the 50 states.