2016 Red Mass

His Eminence, Seán P. Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M., Cap. and The Board of Directors of the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston cordially invite you to attend The Celebration of the Red Mass to be held on Sunday, October 30, 2016

  • Liturgy at 11:30 a.m.
  • Cathedral of the Holy Cross
  • 1400 Washington Street, Boston
  • Luncheon to follow at 1:00 p.m.
  • The Seaport Hotel
  • One Seaport Lane, Boston

About The Red Mass

As we begin each judicial year, the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston sponsors the traditional Red Mass to ask for divine guidance in the proper representation of clients and in the proper administration of justice in the courts and in public office. Since its inception, the Red Mass has remained the ceremonial highlight of the Guild’s year.

The Red Mass has a rich history. Beginning in England during the Middle Ages and continuing even through World War II, the entire bench and bar attended the Mass at the opening of the Court’s term.

Liturgically, the Red Mass is celebrated as the Solemn Mass of the Holy Spirit. Its name derives from the traditional red color of the vestments worn by clergy during the Mass, representing the tongues of fire symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Judges of the High Court, who were all doctors of the law, also wore red robes or academic hoods. With so many participants in red, the celebrations became irrevocably known as the Red Mass. The Red Mass historically marked the official opening of the judicial year of the Sacred Roman Rota, the Tribunal of the Holy See.

In the United States, the Red Mass tradition was inaugurated on October 6, 1928, at old St. Andrew’s Church in New York City. Since then, the Red Mass has been celebrated throughout the United States each fall before the U.S. Supreme Court’s term begins.

The first Red Mass celebrated in Boston is eloquently described by Reverend Charles Donovan in his book, The History of Boston College:

“On October 4, 1941, the Solemn Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit, known in a tradition which goes back many centuries in Rome, Paris and London as the “Red Mass,” was celebrated for the first time in Massachusetts to mark the opening of the judicial year. The ceremony, which took place in the Immaculate Conception Church, was under the auspices of Cardinal O’Connell and the Boston College Law School.

The function drew the most distinguished legal assemblage ever gathered in the state for a religious service. Governor Leverett Saltonstall and Mayor Maurice J. Tobin led the procession…up the center aisle. Among the participants were the chief justice and the full bench of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; the judges of the Massachusetts probate courts and The United States Courts; judges of the land courts, district courts, and the Boston municipal courts; the attorney general of the state and his entire staff; the United States attorney and his entire staff; district attorneys and assistant district attorneys; and representatives from all the law schools and law societies in the state.”

The Red Mass is celebrated in honor of the Holy Spirit as the source of wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude, gifts which shine forth preeminently in the dispensing of justice in the courtroom as well as in the individual lawyer’s office. Other blessings that are commonly requested to prevail in the minds, offices, and court rooms are Divine strength, wisdom, truth, and justice. Today, the Red Mass is attended by judges, lawyers and court officials of all faiths asking God to bless, strengthen and enlighten all servants of the law and all people of faith so that in cooperation and mutual trust, we may effectively achieve justice.


Previous Red Masses

Red Mass 2014

The Combined Celebration of the Red Mass and the White Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Oct. 26, 2014. The Mass was followed by a luncheon at the Seaport Hotel in Boston featuring a keynote address by U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Kenneth Hackett. (Pilot photos by Christopher S. Pineo)

Red Mass 2014 Image Gallery

Red Mass 2013

Featured our Guest Speaker
Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight
Knights of Columbus

Becoming the thirteenth supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus in 2000, Carl Anderson has led the Knights and their families to unprecedented levels of charitable giving and support for their communities and Church. Most recently, under Mr. Anderson’s leadership the Knights have donated nearly $155 million to charity and provided 70 million volunteer hours of charitable service. Over the past decade, under his guidance, the Knights of Columbus has donated more than 653 million hours of service to charity and $1.4 billion to charity. Click HERE to read his complete biography.

Additionally, learn more about the Knights of Columbus website at: www.kofc.org

Vicar general Bishop Robert P. Deeley celebrates the annual Red Mass for members of the legal professions, Sept. 29, 2013 at the Cathedral the Holy Cross. Following the Mass, members of the Catholic Lawyers Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston gathered at the Seaport Hotel for the Red Mass Luncheon where they heard a keynote address by Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Red Mass 2013 Image Gallery

Red Mass 2012

The Celebration of the Red Mass 2012
Sunday, September 30, 2012

Featured our Guest Speaker
Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey

Elected in 1980, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Robbinsville, N.J.) is currently in his 17th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, and serves residents in the Fourth Congressional District of New Jersey. Smith, 60, currently serves as a senior member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and is chairman of its Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization Subcommittee. In 2011-2012 he chaired both the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. He also serves as “Special Representative” on Human Trafficking for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and as an executive member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Previously, he served as Chairman of the Veterans Committee (two terms) and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Operations and the Subcommittee on Africa. Click HERE for his complete bio.

Click HERE for a link to his remarks.

Red Mass 2010 Image Gallery