Red Mass


Catholic Lawyer Guilds throughout the world, in conjunction with their bishops, sponsor a Red Mass annually  in order to invoke divine guidance and strength during the coming term of the Court.  It is celebrated in honor of the Holy Spirit as the source of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and fortitude, gifts that shine forth preeminently in the dispensing of justice in the courtroom as well as in the individual lawyer’s office. It also offers prayers for all men and women in the legal profession, judiciary, and public life, asking that they be blessed with wisdom and understanding.  All members of the legal profession are welcome at the Red Mass, regardless of religious affiliation.

In England, the tradition of the Red Mass began around 1310, during the reign of Edward I. The Mass was offered at Westminster Abbey at the opening of the Michaelmas term (September 29th). It received its name from the fact that the celebrant was vested in red and the Lord High justices were robed in scarlet. They were joined by the university professors who displayed red in their academic gowns. Today, the Catholic judges assemble at the Westminster Cathedral for the celebration of the Red Mass, and a short distance away in ancient Westminster Abbey, the non-Catholic jurists attend religious worship.

The first recorded Red Mass was celebrated in Paris in 1245. In France, the inauguration of the judicial year was celebrated annually at the famous Sainte-Chapelle. Although the chapel was desecrated during the French Revolution, it was restored by Louis Phillipe and dedicated exclusively to the use of the “Messe Rouge.” In 1906, the Parliament secularized the chapel, and the French celebration transferred to Saint-Germaine-l’Auzerrois. The Red Mass has also been traditionally identified with the opening of the Sacred Roman Rota, the supreme judicial body of the Catholic Church.

The inauguration of the Red Mass in the United States occurred in New York City on October 6, 1928 at Old St. Andrew’s. Now, many cities celebrate the Mass each year. In Washington, D.C., members of the Supreme Court, the President, and members of Congress often attend the Red Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Listed below are upcoming Red Masses about which the Association is aware:

    • Sat, October 09, 2021
    • 5:15 PM (EDT)
    • Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 823 Cathedral Pl, Richmond, VA 23220

    The Saint Thomas More Society of Richmond, Virginia cordially invites you to the 2021 Red Mass on Saturday, October 9th, at 5:15 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Richmond, VA.

    The Most Reverend Barry C. Knestout, D.D., 13th Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, will be the Celebrant.

    We are excited to announce that the speaker for the dinner following the Red Mass will be The Honorable Stuart Kyle Duncan, Judge, U.S., Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

    • Sat, October 09, 2021
    • 5:00 PM (CDT)
    • Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, 2215 Ross Ave. Dallas, Texas

    The 2021 Red Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, October 9 at 5:00 p.m. at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Our homilist will be Bishop Thomas Tobin, Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island.

    Following the Red Mass there will be a dinner reception at the Dallas Petroleum Club with honoree and speaker Carter Snead, professor at Notre Dame Law School and Director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. Professor Snead is one of the world's leading experts on bioethics. In 2016, he was appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life, the principal bioethics advisory body to Pope Francis. He is the author of What It Means to be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics, one of the Wall Street Journal's top ten books in 2020.

    The Red Mass invokes the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the securing of justice for the coming year. We encourage attendance by all judiciary, attorneys, law faculty, and everyone interested in the rule of law.

    Please visit the web site of the St. Thomas More Society of Dallas, Texas for registration details.

    • Mon, October 11, 2021
    • 5:30 PM (EDT)
    • St. Patrick Cathedral, 212 State Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101
    The Saint Thomas More Society of Central Pennsylvania’s next Red Mass is scheduled for:

    Monday, October 11, 2021 at 5:30pm
    St. Patrick Cathedral
    212 State Street
    Harrisburg, PA 17101

    A reception will be held in Cathedral Hall immediately following the Red Mass (Free).

    See the Saint Thomas More Society of Central Pennsylvania website for further details.

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