Indicator Lights on Confessional


I was talking to a non-Catholic friend today about Confession and mentioned the green light means it’s okay to go in and that red means someone else is with the Priest. He immediately asked, what indicator did they use before electricity? Does anyone know? I’ve never given it any thought. :shrug:


The confessional the we use in the chapel at school doesn’t have any lights or indicators. If someone is in there, we just keep the door closed and opwn it when we leave.

May God bless you! :slight_smile:


The indicator lights aren’t fool-proof from the likes of me. Failure is my specialty.

walks into sanctuary

sees a red light above the door

“Guess I can go in!”

walks in. Father and some random stranger stare at me

closes door

I dare you to develop a system that I won’t succeed in undermining. None of you are safe.


I have seen what I presume to have been 19th Century confessionals – the Penitent’s side was partially open so one could readily see that there was someone kneeling there. And I think Ive seen ones where the penitent’s side was completely open for that matter.


In the past many confessionals weren’t what they are today. They were more like stalls, some wide open, others with a curtain. A light wasn’t required.


New confessional with windows: $5000
Custom blinds: $300
Hand embroidered kneeler covers: $160
Door soundproofing: $400
Wiring for indicator light: $500
Indicator light bulbs: $6.00
Labor per fifteen minutes of changing the light.when it burns out: $23.50
TK’s story: Priceless!


The confessionals I grew up with had heavy curtains, rather than doors, on the penitents’ sides. The curtains didn’t go all the way to the floor so you could always tell when someone was in there.

The ones I saw in Europe last summer were usually completely open on the penitent’s side so it would be hard to miss if someone is confessing.


Hmmm…do the Franciscan friars at my parish do face to face to conserve natural resources?


Pax Christi!

What about the stalls in the restrooms in your parish? They lock, I hope!!

God bless.


No lights on the confessional at my church. If the door is shut, someone is inside,


The church I grew up in had really tall doors and lights that lit when you knelt on the kneeler. I vividly remember going to confession and having to get in another line because the little girl in the line before me peed and it was running out under the door.

yup. poor kid.
Beautiful confessionals though. Beautiful church.


When confessional lights began to appear in the 1920’s, most American churches had two kinds of confessionals: a free-standing wardrobe-like affair still common in many countries, or a built-in confessional with three doors. The former would have a single light to show that a priest was inside, since it was obvious when a penitent was kneeling by the window. The latter type usually had a light over each door. Those lights were often red or white, but the color was insignificant. The central door was always for the priest and his light showed that he was inside. The penitent’s section featured a kneeler which activated the light over that door when knelt upon.

Since the 1970’s, when traditional confessionals began to give way to “reconciliation rooms,” two indicators were needed since there was a single door. Most churches use a green light to signal “come in” and red light to indicate “in use.” Some have a light for “priest present” (often white rather than green) which stays on while confessions are being heard, and another light when a penitent is inside. In other words, every parish does it a little differently.


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