Shades of Rosacea: On the Liturgical Colour Rose


Since there are so few opportunities to speak about rose coloured vestments during the course of the liturgical year, you will forgive me if I spend just a little more time on them today, focused on some historical examples but also in view of providing ideas for vestment makers or those commissioning new vestments.

The liturgical colour of "rosacea" can have various manifestations. Some are more pink in the sense that is usually understood; a sort of pastel colour that comes about by mixing equal parts of red and white. Others have elements of orange or purple in them, or greater amounts of red than white.  The spectrum is quite broad.

From my perspective, the most edifying forms of rosacea are manifest in shades that either involve some orange or orange and red with less white.   Here are some examples:


My own reason for suggesting these shades (or something similar) is that these colours have a richness to them that is both aesthetically pleasing, are distinct from violet and red,  and also avoid the powerful associations that some other shades of pink have in relation to infants and the young.

There is a richness and depth to these shades.

Lest one think this is solely about the colour pink incidentally, similar considerations need to be applied to other colours at times as well. For example, where blue is utilized as a primary liturgical colour, I would likewise suggest that one steer clear of baby blue for the most part.  In both instances, the strong associations of those colours with infants and children tends away from the gravitas that is befitting vestments and their liturgical purpose.

Here then are a few historical examples of rose vestments that utilize the colours above to very great effect I think. We will begin with "salmon" variants of rosacea.

18th century, Italian
This particular example is one of my favourites from all that I will show you today.  The silver brocade and trims works exquisitely with the salmon colour making for an extremely refined effect. This is 18th century vestment work at its very finest.


18th century, Italian

18th Century, Italian. 

The use of either silver or gold trims compliments this colour quite nicely and the patterns within the textiles, particularly the blues and greens, add a level of visual interest that tones down the dominant colour in a pleasing way. 

A few more examples before we move on from salmon:







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This next example would fall into the shade called "tango" above. This is a very appealing colour that is both rich and joyful. It has a bit of purple in it, though not too much. The gold trims utilized with this shade are particularly nice, though as you will see in the next photo, silver works quite nicely with it as well.



This particular rose chasuble is utterly unique from anything I have ever come across. It includes the symbols of the Passion, which of course makes sense within the context of Lent (and thus Laetare Sunday when rose would be worn) but it is not typical to see this sort of imagery included on a rose set which is usually more denoted by themes of joy. Really very interesting. 
Of course, there are also lots of possibilities sitting in between all of these gradients we are looking at today. Somewhere in between these shades of "salmon" and "tango" is this colour which is also particularly appealing:



The olive green and pale gold found within the orphreys compliment this shade particularly well. 




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This next shade is called "brink" above. It is a little more difficult to source out, but here is one example of that colour:


This colouring is certainly bold and joyful, and it would work particularly well with a gold or silver brocade woven throughout such as this example below:




As you can see, if you are not after as bold a colour as in the previous example, finding a textile that has a weave through it like this can help to mitigate that if that is what you desire. If that is not possible, other opportunities exist depending on whether you are crafting Roman or gothic shaped vestments.  Personally, I think both examples work just fine. 

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Most difficult of all to source out is "Paradise."  In fact, I couldn't find a good example to show here today. That shade has a bit more red in it as well as a tinge of purple. I could personally see it having a little less purple as well. The main difficulty with this shade is finding one that isn't too easily mistaken for red.

Outside of the colours we have been focusing on, and recognizing that these thoughts are really just a matter of personal opinion on my part, I did wish to share two final rose vestments today. This first one utilizes more purple within it. Many refer to this colour as "dusty rose." It can work and it is definitely an option that could be exercised.  The only reason I hesitate with that particular colour myself is because it can be very easy to mistake it for purple. In one sense that link to purple makes manifest liturgical sense of course but, on the other hand, there is also something to be said for having a clear distinction between these liturgical colours to help emphasize the symbolic aspect that the Church would present to us. Still, these are not absolutes.  Here is an example of this more purplish form of rose:


Finally, here is one that is a bit more pink in the sense that we discussed at the beginning of the article though it also borrows from the salmon tones we discussed in a mild way -- though not as much as I would personally prefer. It is, however, worth seeing for the embroidery work alone.


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