Purple, Or No Purple?

Today I saw a photo of Abp. Welby seated at a meeting, wearing the typical black clerical vest that most priests wear. I was surprised he wasn't in episcopal purple --- which raises a question from this non-Anglican: when are bishops required to wear purple? Is it a requirement in certain circumstances, or merely a tradition?

Comments

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    I don’t think there’s a requirement to wear purple. I have a feeling he may be following an example set by his predecessor. I think he probably does wear a purple cassock. (BTW in U.K. usage, this is a vest, and I’m familiar with American usage where this is a vest, but I’m not sure that either of these is what you’re referring to.)
  • Roman Catholic bishops wear purple cassocks (or black with purple trimmings) on occasion, but streetwear is black suit and black shirt. In recent years many Anglican bishops have followed suit (sic), led by (unsurprisingly) the more anglo-catholic of them. Since purple is associated with imperial power it seems an inappropriate colour for bishops to wear if they are to remain conscious of their servant ministry. You'd expect evangelicals like ++Justin to be suspicious of the trappings like purple shirts but he is one of the few that abjures them. I expect purple came into the C of E as part of the 19c revival of ritual, but it seems very inappropriate unless you want to stress the establishment connection.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    edited September 2020
    My bishop rarely wears a purple tonsure shirt, though he does own one. He does wear a purple soutane when appropriate. Personally I think it's a pretentious throwback to prince bishops, and makes the baby Jesus cry. When someone *ahem* close to me was shortlisted for an episcopal appointment I pleaded with them to eschew the nasty practice.

    As it happens I only ever wear a tonsure shirt when hospital visiting, which I am very rarely called to do in my current role, or when I am wearing my cassalb as the cut-away collar looks silly opening on to a naked suprasternal notch.

    And I am very very not ever going to need to wear purple so I won't be put to the test on practising what I preach.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Anglican purple shirted-ness was a 20th century invention anyway. Even the purple stock beloved of bishops when I was a kid forty years ago probably only goes back to about 1900-1910. It probably started first in the USA where apron, frock coat, and gaiters was rare, then spread after WW2.

    Bishop Sherrill who was Presiding Bishop of PECUSA 1946-58 worn ordinary black clericals without either pectoral cross or ring, and that was not uncommon for the low church bishops over here.
  • In RC parlance sometimes the word 'purple' can refer rather to the red colour worn by cardinals - sometimes referred to in English as the 'Sacred Purple' ' I porporati' is one of the possibly many words which can be used to describe RC cardinals.
    Could this next detail interest anyone apart from myself ? During the closure of churches I have watched on three occasions Pontifical Mass from Salzburg cathedral and noticed that the archbishop wore a red zucchetto/skullcap. I checked to see if he had been recently made a cardinal but could find nothing about this.Last Thursday was the patronal feast of Salzburg,a public holiday, and there were three bishops at the Mass,two wearing the red zucchetto.
    It turns out that the Archbishop of Salzburg and a number of other highranking prelates in the former Holy Roman Empire have the title of LEGATUS NATUS, ex-officio representatives of the Holy See and entitled to wear cardinal red.
    Before the Reformation the Archbishop of Canterbury was also a Legatus Natus.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    In RC parlance sometimes the word 'purple' can refer rather to the red colour worn by cardinals - sometimes referred to in English as the 'Sacred Purple' ' I porporati' is one of the possibly many words which can be used to describe RC cardinals.
    Could this next detail interest anyone apart from myself ? During the closure of churches I have watched on three occasions Pontifical Mass from Salzburg cathedral and noticed that the archbishop wore a red zucchetto/skullcap. I checked to see if he had been recently made a cardinal but could find nothing about this.Last Thursday was the patronal feast of Salzburg,a public holiday, and there were three bishops at the Mass,two wearing the red zucchetto.
    It turns out that the Archbishop of Salzburg and a number of other highranking prelates in the former Holy Roman Empire have the title of LEGATUS NATUS, ex-officio representatives of the Holy See and entitled to wear cardinal red.
    Before the Reformation the Archbishop of Canterbury was also a Legatus Natus.

    I find it interesting. :smile:
  • I've also seen purple shirts on United Methodist, AME (African Methodist Episcopal), and Lutheran (I think ELCA?) bishops, as well as on bishops from primarily African-American non-liturgical churches that use the term bishop in the sense of "overseer." I don't know how common the practice is in those groups, though.
  • john holdingjohn holding Ecclesiantics Host, Mystery Worshipper Host
    Our recent bishops have customarily worn street clothes when not carrying out a specific churchly function, but wear purple cassocks when bishoping.
    A couple of years ago, an acquaintance of mine and had to restrain our retired bishop from taking off his purple shirt and clerical collar (it was a very hot day, no shade, and he was indeed wearing appropriate clothing below the shirt). He was at the local pride parade as a representative of our diocesan, and the only way anyone was going to notice that the church was there officially was if he was in purple. I don't suppose that many of the spectators actually realized what he was being -- just admiring the lovely purple shirt, I suppose -- but we thought (and he agreed when we pointed it out) that there was a point to the purple.
    SOmetimes uniforms can matter.
  • Folk from Vancouver may be aware of the former bishop, Michael Ingham, complaining that he was treated differently because of his purple shirt, and this was an impediment to his ministry. At a rural deanery (renamed regional deanery) chapter, he repeated this trauma for the umpteenth time, and was apparently less than amused when a voice from the back suggested he wear a dififerent colour.

    I do not believe that he ever did, but I wonder if other shipmates might have spotted him in black.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    It turns out that the Archbishop of Salzburg and a number of other highranking prelates in the former Holy Roman Empire have the title of LEGATUS NATUS, ex-officio representatives of the Holy See and entitled to wear cardinal red.
    Before the Reformation the Archbishop of Canterbury was also a Legatus Natus.

    I wonder if those prelates in the HRE were the former Electors of Mainz, Cologne and Trier; that would have some logic to it, as would the ABC, the Abp of Rheims, and so forth (recognising the limited role of logic in such matters).
  • The title for the pope's diplomatic representative changed to Nuntius/nuncio in the 1600s and legate/legatus came into more restricted usage. Legatus a latere 'From the(pope's)side' is still used for a cleric sent as a particular emissary of the pope to a particular area for a particular purpose and the holder of this title for that particular purpose is usually a cardinal.
    Legatus natus was often a title given to the Primate of a particular country and seems more or less only to have been conserved in Central Europe. Prague(Primas Bohemiae),Gniezno(Primas Poloniae),Esztergom(Primas Hungariae) Cologne (Primas Rhenaniae ?) and Salzburg (Primas Germaniae). Like the pallium the bishop would only wear the cardinal red within his area of jurisdiction,but the Archbishop of Salzburg as Primas Germaniae can wear cardinal red anywhere .
    (Salzburg was an independent ecclesiastical state and only became part of Austria in the carve up of German states following Napoleonic times)
    I must stress that the overwhelming majority of Catholics, even daily Massgoers ,would neither know nor care about this. It is something which I only learned last week.
  • IIRC Canterbury's status as legatus natus was the source of his degree-granting power, which continues to this day.
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