The Purple Cloth: What You Need To Know

Veneration of the Cross

The crucifix, statues and images in the church are normally adorned with purple cloth from the fifth Sunday of Lent till Good Friday when only the crucifix will be unveiled during mass. Statues and other images are to be unveiled at the beginning of Easter Vigil. This practice of unveiling is popularly known as “The Veneration of the Cross” and this penitential season was formerly called the “Passiontide” in the old Liturgical calendar because our focus is on the cross and death of Jesus Christ. This is why the Stations of the Cross are the only images not covered this season.

There are two major forms of Veneration that occur on Good Friday:

  1. The crucifix is unveiled in steps if covered in the church
  2. A procession occurs from the church to the sanctuary with an unveiled crucifix if it was never covered.

Why purple?

We often perceive the colour purple to represent opulence, riches and royalty. This is why the soldiers mocked Jesus in Pilate’s palace just before his crucifixion by putting a purple cloak around him, calling him The King of the Jews (Mark 15: 17-20)

“And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck his head with a reed, and spat upon him, and they knelt down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.”

This is why purple is the penitential colour of Lent, it’s a time of repentance and a reminder of our Lord’s suffering on earth and His heavenly kingdom.

Now is a great time to go for confession, reaffirm our fasting, mortification and develop our spiritual maturity!

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