Funeral Vestments?


Im not exactly sure if i posted in this right place, if i did not, please forgive me or feel free to move it.

I have a question regarding the vestments worn at funerals. My elderly grandmother wants me to ensure that the priest and her casket are in black vestments / coverings not the now customary white. She doesnt like the idea of a “ressurrection funeral” and neither do i. Is this permissable or allowed in Canon Law or other offcial church teachings? She is traditional and these are her wishes.

The parish priest says he doesnt even own black vestments and wouldnt wear any saying its “dreary and an archaic and ancient custom that the church did away with for a reason”. I was shocked to say the least. Can anyone help?


I don’t think it was done away with. Like the Roman Canon I’m pretty sure it’s an option that just isn’t exercised often.

My family is friends with many priests due to my wife’s job at a Catholic shrine, and we could ask any of them to say a funeral Mass. I mean, they might be busy, but we could ask. Do you happen to know other priests who you could ask when the time comes? Perhaps ask your grandma is she knows any other priests who would remember her?

If father is really against it and you can’t find another priest, I don’t know what else you could do.


GIRM 346(e):

Besides the color violet, the colors white or black may be used at funeral services and at other Offices and Masses for the Dead in the Dioceses of the United States of America.

Having said that, it’s up to the priest. You can’t force him to wear black.


Thanks for the replies, my Grandmother really wants her service to be at this parish, and since i live in Canda, he said the CCCB doesnt allow for changes in vestment colors. I tried to mention what johnmann said.

Anyways, i guess we will have to fin a different priest. I know it is up to the priest, but shouldnt he respect the wishes of the dead?


Black vestments are certainly still a universal option. If the Canadian Bishops Conference has banned black vestments, I would like to see the documentation. If you are not able to find another priest, would the priest at least consider purple / violet, which is a penitential color and certainly appropriate during Lent, rather than white?


Black is still the proper color for funerals. White is an adaptation approved for the United States. White is the option, not the norm.

You can ask that the priest wear black vestments. You can even offer to provide them. Whether or not he wears them is still his decision to make.

At a funeral Mass (as with all Masses) all the options are the right of the individual celebrant. There’s nothing you can do to compel him to wear black anymore than someone could compel me to wear white when I’m the celebrant (which is something I won’t entertain).

You can suggest. You might even convince him. But in the end, it will be the decision of the priest presiding at the funeral to decide what vestments to wear.

Here are a few if you’re interested.


Tell your grandmother that the use of white vestments has nothing to do with a “resurrection Funeral” which is a term new me. White is the color of baptism and the salvation we received in our baptism. The use of white pal and vestments is to remind of that.
Dcn Frank


Canadian GIRM 346(e):

The colour black may be used, where it is the practice, in Masses for the Dead.

Most priests don’t have black vestments though. If you can’t find a priest with black vestments, you may want to opt for purple.


Black vestments are a valid option in the Roman Rite. In order to help ensure that that grandmother’s wishes are carried out, you could consider a “living will” with “black vestments at the obsequies” as a requirement.

Personally, I find the priest’s remarks totally tasteless, not to mention baseless. Since he claims they don’t have black vestments, you might also consider donating an inexpensive set to the parish in lieu of at least part of the stipend. Even better if someone in the family is handy with a needle and thread (and sewing machine) and could make a set. It would be a lovely tribute to grandmother.


Thank you everyone again for the replies, i will see if the priest will go for purple. My grandmother isnt dead yet, but she is planning things out. In fact, while i was in RCIA, our deacon said that the color white and the themes of the mass after Vatican II was focused more on the final resurrection and not so mich on the death. Thays just what i was taught and now i know better. Thanks everyone that was very helpful!

As to the CCCB i cant find anything. Perhaps i could contact the Bishop?


In the GIRM for Canada (346) black is still the proper color for funerals. White is an option just like it is for the U.S.

He shouldn’t tell you that the GIRM won’t allow it, because that’s simply not true. If that’s his choice, then he should tell you that it’s his choice.

You might find a priest willing to do the funeral in black. You might convince the pastor to allow this to happen. I’ll just offer a word of caution that it’s generally not good to ask an outside priest to come into the parish to do something that the pastor chooses not to do. If the pastor is all right with this, then there’s no problem. It’s just generally not a good thing to do. If the pastor has invited you to find an outside priest, or has otherwise left that door open to you, then by all means pursue it. Just tread lightly.



As to contacting the bishop, please tread lightly.


Yes, but if there is a priest who is a relative or friend of the family, it usually goes down well. :slight_smile:

Experience tells me that would be a total waste of time and effort.


I think the most charitable thing to do would be for your beloved grandmother to make an appointment with the pastor of the church where she plans to have her funeral.
Together, they can go over her wishes.
If, as you believe, the pastor prefers white, he can then have an instructive discussion with her on the Church’s position regarding death and resurrection. More often then not, these things have more to do with a person preferring the way they remember something than what is really going on behind the signs and symbols that we use in church.
At any rate, it is she who should make the preparations if she wishes to, not you.
She may trust you because you agree with her, but you will be the one “left holding the bag” so to speak, and if the priest exercises his right to do other than she requested, that is placing too much guilt on you personally, for something that is out of your hands.
Ask her to meet with the priest. He will explain his position, and she will advance hers.
Both of you must then, defer to the celebrant.
The important thing is that she die in a state of grace. All of the other stuff (like colors used, flowers, music choices) is really for those who are left to mourn, and pray.
God bless you for trying to do right by your grandmother’s wishes.
But if you care this much, get her to visit the Pastor.


Umm… and are you expecting that this would make it binding on the priest? :hmmm:

Since he claims they don’t have black vestments, you might also consider donating an inexpensive set to the parish in lieu of at least part of the stipend.


Just what kind of dirt cheap vestments – or extravagant Mass stipends – are there in your part of the world??? :wink:



White, purple, and black are all acceptable. That having been said, I think that your grandmother should have a say in what’s used at her funeral Mass.

I’d consider putting it in the will. Have her list it as one of her final wishes, and have the pastor of her parish informed immediately after her passing. If the priest who is celebrating the Mass is at all able to get a set of black vestments for the Mass, then I think that he would.

Any priest who would refuse another person’s personal preference for their funeral, just because it conflicts with his personal preference, would be acting insensitively.


Someone had better start sewing.


While I have no problem with black vestments at funerals (I’m old enough to remember them at all funerals), I really don’t think you can say that black is the proper colour for funerals in the Canadian GIRM.

Of the three colour choices for funerals, it’s the only one that includes “where it is the practice”. Violet or white are simply “may be used”. I have a feeling that many priests will argue that “here it IS NOT the practice.”

Even the Latin IGMR gives two options: violet, and black ‘where it is the custom’.



Yes. I don’t know one priest who owns black vestments.
Or would want to have any donated.
Our parish has had the women of the parish make, and quilt a beautiful white garment for the caskets. It’s lovely and hopeful. The Pastor’s white vestment is of the highest quality.
I wouldn’t insult him by saying what he has isn’t good enough.
I prefer he spend his time comforting my survivors and friends, admonishing them to get their own lives in order, for life is precious.
I will leave these decisions to the discretion of the priest.
In Ireland last fall, at my father-in-law’s funeral, they used purple. Was fine.

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