Priests & Deacons: Would you wear black vestments for funerals if asked by the family?


True, they make some very nice vestments in India for a fraction of the price. I’m sure the question is: who’s making them? Devout Catholics making them cheap for the Church? Or non-Christian sweat shops?

I imagine it’s devout Catholics. Here is a link to a vestment company in India, which has a scanned and signed letter from their bishop on it.

And below is a link to their eBay site


It comes down to the personal preferences of the particular priest. You might ask your parish priest directly.

And, to tell the truth, you might consider buying them for him, rather than for the parish. If he is re-assigned, and leaves the vestments at the parish, and the next priest assigned there has a thing against wearing black, you know what will happen to the vestments, right…? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


Thanks for the link. It’s interesting that of the four Funeral Palls on the site, that three of them are black. My parish actually has two sets of black chasubles and two sets of black dalmatics (actually a dalmatic and a tunicle - had to add a separate deacon’s stole for that one). but we only have a white pall.

If you are really looking to donate vestments for funerals, you might also want to consider a black pall since they seem to be rare now a days.


If I am ever again in the position of NOK who is in charge of funeral arrangements, I will request black or violet. I will make a donation for the purchase if need be. I had never thought of it before, simply thought white was the color to use, but when we had a young immediate family member die, during the funeral, it struck me out of the blue. It was a beautiful funeral mass in every way except the white vestments. It seemed nothing short of the church not being in solidarity with a family in extreme grief.
I realize no one asks, but that is because no one is told there is an option. When sitting down with the pastor before hand and selecting readings and hymns, vestment color never was mentioned. If it had been, I would not have requested something besides white. Count me as one who has come to view the exclusive use of white funeral vestments as the worse of the liturgical reforms.


It is true, inexpensive vestments are available. I made the mistake of buying a rose dalmatic and stole from one of these vendors once.

I would rather wear a garbage bag with a hole cut through for my head and arms. More comfortable, breathes more, and doesn’t wrinkle as easily.

They are trash.

I threw (burned) the rose set away and bought a real set from Slabbinck, and I will only ever buy Slabbinck (or an equal quality maker) vestments from here on out.

Trust me when I tell you, you aren’t doing an act of charity if you donate a set of inexpensive vestments. Really more like an act of torture to your clergy.


White is not the norm, violet is. Black and white are “options” and not because of Vatican II. That “white” innovation came well after Vatican II

From the General Instruction for the Roman Missal (the “GIRM”)

  1. As regards the color of sacred vestments, traditional usage should be observed, namely:

a) The color white is used in the Offices and Masses during Easter Time and Christmas Time; on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity; and furthermore on celebrations of the Lord other than of his Passion, celebrations of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Holy Angels, and of Saints who were not Martyrs; on the Solemnities of All Saints (November 1) and of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June24 ); and on the Feasts of St. John the Evangelist (December 27), of the Chair of St. Peter (February 22), and of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25).

b) The color red is used on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion and on Friday of Holy Week (Good Friday), on Pentecost Sunday, on celebrations of the Lord’s Passion, on the “birthday” feast days of Apostles and Evangelists, and on celebrations of Martyr Saints.

c) The color green is used in the Offices and Masses of Ordinary Time.

d) The color violet or purple is used in Advent and Lent. It may also be worn in Offices and Masses for the Dead.

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. (emphasis mine)

f) The color rose may be used, where it is the practice, on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent).


No, I think a conservative priest could say he wants to stick with white because of the degree to which the liturgy refers to the baptismal hope of the deceased or that he’s willing to wear purple but does not need black vestments. At any rate, I don’t think that reserving the decision about what color vestments are appropriate for a particular Mass would make a priest conservative or liberal. It only means he has his own opinions and selects his own vestments based on that.
(What is a “low” church? I thought that was an Anglican thing…)


That would be hilarious! I am imagining my bishop whiling away the hours on Catholic Arguing Forum…


Should Catholic laypeople wear violet at funerals?


Deacon, white may not be the norm based off the GIRM, but my experience is that it is the defacto norm for at least the last 30 years. That’s why I qualified my statement with the word exclusive, because it is exclusively used and from my experience, violet does not even seem to be considered.
And I said nothing about Vatican II. Most liturgical reforms came after Vatican II.

Thanks for the detailed information and response.


I have never assisted at a funeral where white was worn. Always violet. I think we need to be careful to assume our individual experiences are indicative of the wider church. I would be interested to see how other posters have experienced this. In my diocese, it would be odd to wear white (or black) at a funeral.


Only if they can properly accessorize. :wink:



Does a bishop wear green during ordinary time at Mass?



Lack of incense, more contemporary mucic, etc. etc.


Of course, how silly of me.


It all depends upon the diocese. The GIRM for the US says that black ‘may’ be used. This is not automatic dispensation, just giving the possibility. The Bishop has the final say for what is allowed in his diocese. For example, my Order are in two diocese in the US. One allows the option of wearing black vestments by all the priests and one only allows black vestments where it has been the established traditional norm in that parish.

I never actually saw purple or black used in funerals until I went to New Jersey for seminary. It was always white in the cities I had lived in (or a grey so light it could almost be called a shade of white in one parish).


Yes, you are correct, we do. Around here it always seems to be white, I was wrong in assuming that was the defacto norm.


Maybe priests should be able to wear what they want and not feel pressured by mourners giving him black vestments.
In fact before gifting vestments one should check with someone close to the priest or deacon,as a rule,unless you want them put at the back of the closet to be pulled out once or twice a year.
Priests do complain to friends that they feel pressured to wear gifted vestments they do not like.


If the GIRM provides options, I certainly feel the priest is the person who should decide. I just don’t like that they choose white Everytime, and as I said, if it happens again that I am in charge of a family member’s funeral arrangements, I will requestst violet or black. Most priests will consult with the family on other options, eg readings. Even though it is the priest’s decision. Why no vestments als0?

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