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Chris Martinez wrote:

Hi, guys —


  • Why is Jesus and the saints in our parish covered with a purple cloth on the Fifth Sunday of Lent?

Thank you!!!!

<>< +++

  { Why are statues of Jesus and the saints covered in purple in our parish this Last Sunday of Lent? }

Paul replied:

Dear Chris,

Traditionally the color purple symbolizes penance and royal dignity. Not only did Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, come into the world, but on the way to His crucifixion for our salvation the Roman soldiers mockingly dressed Him in a purple robe and crowed Him with thorns (Mark 15:16-20). This is why this color is worn by the priest during the seasons of Lent and Advent.



Chris replied:

Thank you Paul!

  • But why is Jesus and the saints completely covered this Sunday and then uncovered on Easter?

Jesus and the saints were uncovered last Sunday but today He and the Saints are hidden under a purple cloth.


Paul replied:

Hi, Chris —

  • Apparently you mean statues of Jesus and saints in your church?

I can understand a tradition of covering statues in purple from Passion (Palm) Sunday through Holy Saturday to reflect the liturgy of the passion, but I'm not sure why your parish would do this for two weeks before Easter. If this is a wider tradition in the universal Church that I'm missing, I'm sure one of my colleagues will enlighten us.


Eric replied:

Chris —

It's a folk custom, not a universal one.

I believe it represents the idea that we are "fasting" from the beauty and glory of the sacred art, making the church a starker, more somber place.


Mike replied:

Hi, Chris —

I agree with both my colleagues. While it's my understanding and experience that the statues and crucifixes are covered up only during Holy Week, due to the uniquely redemptive nature of the week, like Eric said, I don't think it's a universal custom of the Church.

Hope this helps,


Mary Ann replied:

Chris —

The custom was to cover them from Passion Sunday until Good Friday, when the cross was uncovered. I guess now it is just Palm Sunday.

The meaning is that now we should be living the Passion interiorly.

Mary Ann

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi, Chris —

The team's answers are fine, but I will point out that in the New Roman Missal, on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, it indicates that the US Bishops have it as an option; "they may" cover the statues from then through Good Friday.

Hope this helps,

Fr. Jonathan

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