Monday, July 28, 2014

The Red Mass


The annual Medina County Ecumenical Red Mass offered each year at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church during the last week of September is a service which celebrates a tradition with a long history associated with the Anglo-American legal system and Anglican church.

In England, a solemn votive Mass in honor of the Holy Spirit is celebrated annually at the opening of the judicial year at the beginning of the Michaelmas Term of the High Court. Judges and lawyers attend in a body, joined by public officials and law faculty members. This venerable custom originated in the 13th Century during the reign of Edward I. It receives its name, The Red Mass, from the fact that the celebrant wears red vestments (traditional in services celebrating the Holy Spirit) and the Lord High Justices wear their robes of brilliant scarlet. Frequently, they are joined by university law professors in their academic doctoral gowns. In England today the Roman Catholic judges assemble at the Westminster Cathedral for one celebration, while a short distance away in ancient Westminster Abbey the jurists of other religious traditions attend a Eucharist celebrated in the Church of England.

The Episcopal Church in the United States is the American daughter and heir of the Anglican tradition. As the central parish of the Episcopal Church in Medina, the congregation of St. Paul’s Parish welcomes the judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officers of our county to this service of blessing our courts and legal system.

This offering received each year benefits Bluecoats of Medina County, a private charity serving the interests of emergency responders (police, fire fighters, and emergency medical technicians) injured or killed in the line of duty, and the families of these public servants.