The Ambrosian Rite's Unique Liturgical Colour: Morello

Continuing on with our considerations of some of the more unique colours in the liturgical palette, we have in the past covered the ashen grey of the rite of Lyon, and more recently the Spanish Cerulean blue privilege; today we turn our attention to the Ambrosian rite and 'morello.' 

Morello is used in the way violet is in the Roman rite. It is sometimes described as a kind of dark plum colour, meaning that it has elements of blues, purple and even brownish tones within its colour make up. The best way I can describe Ambrosian 'morello' is that it can land somewhere within a colour range that spans a brownish to bluish versiom of purple, sitting somewhere within the range of colours one might find between the Capuchin habit and a dark plum.

If you want a good comparison of this effective Ambrosian version of purple by comparison with something more typically Roman, the following image shows the Archbishop of Milan wearing a morello coloured chasuble and beneath it is a pontifical dalmatic in Roman purple. One can see from this that whereas Roman purple tends toward the reddish end of the violet spectrum, morello tends toward the bluish, blackish, brownish end of the purple spectrum.

As with so many liturgical colours, one cannot think of them being just one shade; there is a gradient. With that in mind, let's take a look at a few more examples of this unique liturgical colour.

Readers might be asking themselves how and when these morello coloured vestments are used? These are used for the entirety of the seasons of Advent (which spans six weeks instead of the four found in the Roman rite please note). They are also used during Lent, however only on Sundays as the Ambrosian rite preserves the ancient custom of the use of black vestments during Lent. It may be also worth noting that within the Ambrosian tradition there are no "rose Sundays" (i.e. when rose coloured vestments are used).  

By use of morello then, the Ambrosian rite is maintaining a close connection to the ancient custom of the use of black as a penitential liturgical colour. 

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