Home » Behind the Catholic Counter » A rose vestment by any other name… What is Laetare Sunday?
Laetare Sunday

A rose vestment by any other name… What is Laetare Sunday?

Right this moment, somewhere out there, Father Sadfella is standing in his sacristy, Laetare Sunday circled on his calendar and his gaze turned forlornly toward the open door of his sacristy closet.

 “THAT thing.” he is thinking to himself—maybe not even to himself, since he is alone in the sacristy. What might “THAT thing” be? It’s an allegedly rose-colored vestment that has seen better days.

Who knows? Father Sadfella may be your very own pastor. More about that later.

 What’s with the pink, um, rose vestments, anyway?

 “Laetare” comes from a line in the Latin liturgy for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, “Laetare Jerusalem” which means, “Rejoice, Jerusalem!” Since the fourth Sunday falls toward the middle of Lent, it’s a day set aside as “Laetare Sunday” to remember the joy that is coming on Easter Sunday. Once upon a time, the pope would bless golden roses at this time of year, which were sent to Catholic heads of state; that’s where the tradition of rose vestments seems to have originated. Many a priest wishes they had gone for the gold, but they didn’t. Sorry, guys.

Rose Chasuble
Rose Chasuble

 Why don’t we make a bigger deal over Laetare Sunday?

Go for it! Just because we don’t have a lot of popular traditions tied to Laetare Sunday doesn’t mean you can’t make some of your own. Father Matthew Ernest, writing at Fathers for Good, offers some ideas: “In addition to attending Sunday Mass, a family might choose to mark Laetare Sunday by anticipating the Easter feast; a Sunday brunch with roses on the table would be appropriate. A family might also wish, during this beginning period of spring, to plant a rose bush on this day. Finally, there was a medieval tradition of visiting one’s “mother church” (the church where one was baptized) on this day. A family trip to see where mom and dad or the children began their journey of faith could make for a fine Sunday afternoon outing!”

Pope Benedict with Laetare Rose

Meanwhile, back at the sacristy…

 Don’t worry, Father Sadfella, we haven’t forgotten about you. As a matter of fact, we’re here for you in a big way with a rose vestments intended to put some extra “laetare” into your Laetare Sunday.

Rose Dalmatic
Rose Dalmatic

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