The Natchitoches Parish Bar Association will hold its 13th Annual Red Mass at Trinity Episcopal Church on Friday, Nov. 2 at 9 a.m. A reception will follow. The Mass and Reception are open to the public.
History of the Red Mass
The Red Mass is a service celebrated annually in the church for judges, prosecutors, attorneys, law school professors and students, and government officials. The Mass requests guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on what Christians believe is the God-given responsibility of all in the legal profession.
Its traditional name, the Red Mass, is derived from the color of the vestments that may be worn by the celebrants of the service and traditional scarlet robes of the attending judges.
The exact date of the first Red Mass is uncertain. The tradition of celebrating this service goes back many centuries in the ecclesiastical courts of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. During the reign of Louis IX, a chapel was designed for and dedicated to the celebration of the Red Mass in 1245. In England, the custom of judges and lawyers attending the Red Mass annually in Westminster Cathedral began in 1310 and continued even during World War II.
The Red Mass came to the United States in 1928 in New York City. In the District of Columbia, Justices of the highest courts in the land gather for the observance of the Red Mass at the Washington Cathedral. At this special celebration, persons of all faiths and from all branches of government, foreign diplomats and other distinguished guests join together to ask God’s help in their roles as administrators of justice.
The first Red Mass in Louisiana was offered in New Orleans’ St. Louis Cathedral on October 5, 1953. The tradition spread throughout the state, including Shreveport, where the first Red Mass there was held in 1993.
The Natchitoches Parish Bar Association felt it was important to ask God’s guidance and blessings for the work of the judges and lawyers living and working in Natchitoches Parish and the surrounding communities, so the Mass was brought to Natchitoches in 2006, and celebrated here at Trinity Episcopal Church. Since then, the Natchitoches Parish Bar Association has alternated hosting the Red Mass with the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and have included others who work in public service.