The custom of a special Mass for the Bench and Bar arose principally in England, France, and Italy in the early 13th Century.
The first recorded Red Mass was celebrated in the year 1245 in Paris. For many centuries, the Red Mass was celebrated in the chapel of the Order of Advocates, La Sainte Chapelle, which was built by King Louis IX of France -- later canonized as Saint Louis. In certain localities of France, the Red Mass was celebrated in honor of Saint Ives, the Patron Saint of Lawyers, who was born in Brittany in 1253 and canonized in 1347.
In England, the tradition of the Red Mass began about 1310 during the reign of Edward I. The entire Bench and Bar attended the Red Mass together at the opening of each term of Court. Since the priest celebrant wore red robes, the judges of the High Court in the time of Edward I, who were all doctors of the law, conformed to the ecclesiastical tradition and also wore red robes. As a consequence, the celebration became popularly known as the Red Mass.
Today, many scholars maintain that the name has a deeper origin. The liturgical color red signifies the willingness to defend the truth inspired by the Holy Spirit. Since in the Mass we invoke the aid of the Holy Spirit upon the work of practitioners of the law, the devotion is called the Red Mass.
For many years, STMS has co-sponsored the annual Red Mass with the Diocese of Sacramento.
For 2010, the Red Mass was held at 5pm, Tuesday, October 5, 2010, in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
For 2009, the Red Mass was held at 5 pm, Tuesday, October 6, 2009, in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
In 2008, STMS again co-sponsored the Red Mass, held at the Cathedral on October 8th, at 5pm. Co-adjutor Bishop Soto presided and delivered the homily. Click HERE for the invitation to the Mass and Diocesan Dinner which followed.
For 2006 and 2007, the Diocese appointed a special Red Mass Committee to plan and hold this event in October.Our 2005 Red Mass was held March 9th at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church in Downtown Sacramento. It was presided over by the Most Reverend Richard J. Garcia, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, and featured the Reverend Paul J. Goda, S.J., Professor of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law as the homilist. The theme of the Red Mass was "The Catholic Tradition of the Moral Dimension of Political Life." Click here for photos from the 2005 Red Mass: Photos