While all clergy wear some variation of the basic cossack, each rank has its own color:
Cardinals wear crimson red, a tradition started when Pope Innocent IV gave the cardinals their distinctive hats in 1245. The red symbolizes their devotion to the church, to the point of spilling blood.
The Pope originally wore the same red as the cardinals, but Pope Pius V donned a white cossack in the mid 1500s, carrying over the color from his Dominican priesthood. Future popes continued the practice, although the cape (mozetta) and skull cap (camauro) are still red.
No one is quite sure why bishops wear purple. There are two prominent theories:
Purple represents penitence, which is also why priests wear purple during Lent.
The color has long been associated with royalty because the dye was very expensive to produce. By wearing purple the bishop shows his high place in the church.
In either case, there isn't a set shade worn by bishops. Most wear amaranth red, while bishops in the UK and North America wear a bluer purple.
Priests wear black because they are "dead to the world." By joining the priesthood they leave the concerns of secular life to concentrate on the spiritual.
These colors are traditional but not set in stone. The pope's red shoes are a good example of this: Most popes wear red shoes to symbolize the martyrdom of St. Peter, the first pope. John Paul II switched from red to brown shoes early on when he served in the office, saying that he felt the color was more humble. He actively encouraged the cardinals to switch from brown to red shoes, and ended the use of buckles. His successor Benedict XVI currently wears the traditional red shoes.
Posted 4450 day ago